CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — After 19 lead changes, USF fell one short Wednesday against Virginia.
Dominique Jones, who scored 23, had two chances to win. But the sophomore guard missed with 13.9 seconds left, then at 7.6 to allow Virginia to hang on 77-75.
"The first one was the shot that he makes at a pretty good rate," USF coach Stan Heath said. "With the other one, I thought he might have been able to kick it to a teammate and look for something a little bit better. But I'm not going to discourage him from taking the big shots because he's going to be our main guy to make those plays.
Jones said he made the decision to keep the ball on both plays. His first miss came after Sylven Landesberg's layup put the Cavaliers up 76-75. The second came after a Landesberg free throw.
USF (1-1) went to its strength — its guards — for most of the night. Jesus Verdejo scored 22. Chris Howard, the Bulls' third guard, scored 12, fouling out in the second half.
Fouls were a growing problem for USF. In the first half, Virginia attempted only two free throws, making both. In the second, it hit 16 of 26. The Bulls made 6 of 12 total attempts.
"The free-throw thing was a huge difference," Heath said. "We didn't make ours. We didn't get (to the line) as much."
Landesberg, a freshman, led the Cavaliers (2-0) with 21 points. Jamil Tucker added 15 and seven rebounds.
"I watched (Landesberg) on film," Heath said, but added the young guard still surprised him. "He's a little longer than you'd think; he's got long arms. He's a little taller than you'd think, and he's got a good step. … He's got a bright future ahead of him."
The game was somewhat of a homecoming for USF's Howard, from nearby Lorton, about two hours from Charlottesville. With his family in attendance, Howard said he didn't worry too much about fouling out: "It wasn't tough. The refs are going to make calls, and I got to play smarter."
Growing up, Howard watched the Cavs closely, and Wednesday's battle between Big East and ACC teams reminded him of what he saw as a child.
"I can remember days back when (the Cavaliers) were really, really good," he said. "They were one of the programs to beat in the ACC, which they're getting back to that, as you can see now."
In his second game with the Bulls, center Alex Rivas Sanchez, who had metal rods inserted in his legs in May, had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds in 31 minutes.