Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

South Florida Bulls upset No. 8 Marquette Golden Eagles 57-56

TAMPA — USF had been there before, with a high-ranked opponent on the ropes in the closing seconds, needing one shot, one last stop, only to see history slip away.

Facing No. 8 Marquette, the last remaining team undefeated in Big East play, the Bulls got that shot then got that stop, picking up a historic upset Friday night in the Sun Dome.

Dominique Jones hit a layup with 15 seconds left to put USF ahead. Then the Bulls saw not one but two Marquette shots bounce out in the final two seconds. The 57-56 win is USF's first over a Top 10 team in 38 seasons of basketball and 28 tries, a landmark victory before a crowd of 5,316.

"It's very special, one of the more special wins I've ever had," said coach Stan Heath, who had been 0-10 against ranked teams at USF. "I don't want this to be the last one. I'd like to have more conversations like this in the future."

Down one, the Golden Eagles (20-3, 9-1) called a timeout with 10 seconds left, and Heath chose a man-to-man defense, hoping it would limit second shots. Their top scorer, Jerel McNeal, fouled out with 54 seconds left, so Wesley Matthews got the call.

He drove to the basket and saw his layup bounce off the rim. Lazar Hayward got a good look at a putback, but it, too, bounced out.

"I'm really surprised that shot didn't go in," Heath said. "He had a close tip. I don't know, but God was with us. We had a little favor, but we did enough things well to give ourselves a chance."

USF, whose three Big East wins match the most in any of its three seasons in the league, was methodical on offense and persistent on defense, holding Marquette to 25 points below its average and 4-of-24 shooting on 3-pointers.

The Bulls (8-14, 3-7), who led by as many as 10 in the first half, trailed 47-42 with eight minutes left when Jesus Verdejo took over, scoring their next 11 points. He used his speed in transition, getting two fastbreak layups, then hit a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim and in.

"This is for the fans. They've been here the longest," said Verdejo, who finished with 21 points, his most in a Big East game.

Marquette went 10-for-23 on free throws, and McNeal made one of two shots with 1:14 left to give it a 56-55 lead. Jones forced McNeal's fifth foul but missed the front end of a one-and-one.

After forcing a turnover, USF got a layup from Jones and foul with 15 seconds left. But he again missed the free throw, keeping it a one-point game.

"When I missed them, I told everybody, 'I'm sorry I missed them. Just buckle down on D with me. We've got 10 seconds,' " said Jones, who scored 15. "Zeus (Verdejo) was like, 'Hey, we've got your back.' That's when the team came together and got a stop."

Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected]

A clutch win (finally)

Five times before Friday under Stan Heath, USF lost to a Top 25 team after keeping it close late:

Date Opp. Down Time

Jan. 24, '09 Vill. 2 1:33

Jan. 2, '09 Syr. 3 1:33

March 8, '08 N.D. 2 3:06

Feb. 16, '08 Conn. 30:49 *

Jan. 29, '08 at Marq. 2 4:25

* Overtime


Very rare upset

USF improved to just 9-79 against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 since the program's inception in 1971-72.

The nine wins:

Date Opponent Rank Coach Score

FridayMarquette 8 Stan Heath 57-56

Feb. 3, '07Notre Dame 21 Robert McCullum 69-63

March 4, '06Georgetown 20 Robert McCullum 63-56

March 10, '05Cincinnati 21 Robert McCullum80-68 *

March 5, '05Charlotte 18 Robert McCullum 85-73

Feb. 24, '92 at Tulane 15 Bobby Paschal 81-76

Feb. 15, '92 at Charlotte 22 Bobby Paschal 70-63

Dec. 28, '91Iowa 23 Bobby Paschal 85-78

Feb. 12, '81South Alabama18 Lee Rose 70-52

* Conference USA tournament

South Florida Bulls upset No. 8 Marquette Golden Eagles 57-56 02/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 8:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College basketball scandal dips into Tampa Bay


    Tuesday's national college basketball scandal has recruiting ties to Tampa Bay.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  2. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    LHP Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Rays, looking to continue his successful late-season run, in which he is 4-0, 2,57 over his last eight starts.

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Alex Volkov with a top-six showcase for Lightning


    Alex Volkov entered Lightning camp a bit of an unknown, the second-round pick from Russia in his first NHL camp.

    Alex Volkov (79) works to stop Florida Panthers center Denis Malgin (62) during the second period of Sunday's game in Tampa.