TOA BAJA, P.R. — Two long scoring droughts — and a gamelong shutout by leading scorer Dominique Jones — led to USF's demise Sunday night in the San Juan Shootout.
Wright State held the Bulls scoreless for more than 10 minutes in the first half and for nearly eight to begin the second on the way to a 60-43 victory, the Raiders' second in two tourney games. USF (4-6) is 1-1 with a game tonight against Oral Roberts.
"They defended well, and we helped when we couldn't make open shots," USF coach Stan Heath said. "It's shocking to see Dominique didn't score. He couldn't get into a rhythm."
Jones, who leads the Bulls with nearly 18 points a game, took 12 shots, five from 3-point range, and didn't make any.
Meanwhile, Jesus Verdejo, a Puerto Rico native, went wild with 19 points in the second half to finish with 26, but his offensive output was way too late.
"We thought we were going to come down here and win three games," Verdejo said. "We scored only 14 points in the first half, but they scored only 21. We were down by seven. We thought we would play hard to come out the second half. We didn't do that."
Instead, it was more like the first half.
After Mobolaji Ajayi rammed home a dunk that made it 9-9 with 13:46 left in the half, the Bulls didn't score again until 3:37 was left. By that time they trailed 18-9 as WSU junior guard John David Gardner was clamping down on Jones' shooting.
"It wasn't just me," Gardner said. "It's a team effort."
Eventually, Gardner was switched to Verdejo to try stopping him, but it was unnecessary.
USF went 11 straight possessions without scoring to begin the second half, until Verdejo made a basket with 12:06 to play. That made it 29-16 Wright State.
So, who are these defensive-minded Raiders? A Horizon League team, they lost their first six games after winning 20 or more for two straight years. After their first four losses, they also lost leading scorer Vaughn Duggins, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, to a broken finger in his right (shooting) hand.
Duggins should be ready to play again by the new year, but the Raiders (5-7) have now won five of their past six, losing only to No. 11 Wake Forest.
Duggins is also known for his defensive prowess, but his teammates held USF to 26.5 percent shooting.
Without Verdejo, it would have been worse.
TONIGHT: The Bulls face Oral Roberts (2-10) at 5:15 in their finale of the San Juan Shootout. The game will be broadcast on 1250-AM.