Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

USF Bulls beat Providence Friars 81-78 to remain in third place in Big East

TAMPA — Halfway through the Big East season, USF is still getting used to the idea of having conference games it is supposed to win. But the Bulls continue to consistently come through in such games, as in Sunday's 81-78 victory against Providence at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Bulls (13-9, 6-3 Big East) used a 16-1 run in the second half — including eight points by freshman point guard Anthony Collins — to take control, then went 7-of-10 at the free-throw line in the final minute to pull out a key home win before an announced crowd of 4,333.

"It's motivation to keep working hard," said forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, the former King High standout who went 3-of-4 on 3-pointers off the bench in the final nine minutes.

"For a school like us that's never been at the top of the Big East at this time of year, we can really use that as a motivation."

USF is tied for third in the Big East a year after going 3-15 in conference play. It won Sunday with a balanced effort, with Hugh Robertson getting a season-high 15 points as one of five Bulls in double figures. Collins had 15 to go with six assists, and USF committed just five turnovers as a team after having 22 in a loss at Marquette on Tuesday.

"I don't think we played great," said coach Stan Heath, whose team is 11-1 at home this season. "Normally our defense has been our staple, but our offense kicked in. … I thought some guys stepped up at some key, key moments."

Providence (12-10, 1-8), which lost its 20th straight Big East road game spanning more than two years, got 24 first-half points from freshman LaDontae Henton. He finished with 33, the most by a USF opponent since Notre Dame's Luke Harangody had 36 in a January 2010 game.

Some of USF's second-half spark came from Collins, who was 1-for-4 on 3-pointers all season coming in but hit a pair in a span of three minutes to give the Bulls an eight-point lead.

"He seems to be a guy that, when you need a big basket, he knocks it down," Heath said.

"That was a key moment. We've been encouraging him to take that shot. He's a much better shooter than he gives himself credit for. I know it's an awkward-looking shot, but he can make that shot. The more he does that, the more people have to guard him and the more he can get into the paint and create havoc."

Providence trailed by eight with 36 seconds to play but made things interesting, thanks in part to USF fouling the Friars twice on 3-pointers in the final 21 seconds.

Up two with 4.8 seconds left, USF's Victor Rudd, who had gone 5-for-5 at the line in the final minute, missed his second shot, but Providence not only let Fitzpatrick grab the loose rebound but inexplicably opted not to foul the 62 percent free-throw shooter as the final seconds ran off the clock.

"All I can do is coach. You can only put them out there," coach Ed Cooley said. "You can bring them to the race, you can't ask them to win every day. I don't know why."

USF has a tough challenge ahead, playing at No. 9 Georgetown on Saturday before returning home to face Pittsburgh on Feb. 8.

Comments
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
2018 NFL schedule: All 256 games ranked

2018 NFL schedule: All 256 games ranked

When the NFL released its schedule Thursday night, we were going to rank the best and worst games. Instead, we entered the Times schedule-evaluation laboratory and ranked all 256 based on their attractiveness and the quality of the teams involved.One...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

HARTFORD, Conn. — Craig Breslow is 37 years old, with a dozen years of experience as a left-handed reliever in the major leagues. He is pitching now for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, just getting to know his teammates. In their openin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 12 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Published: 04/20/18
Really, it’s time to look ahead

Really, it’s time to look ahead

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 this afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I’m going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years.I’m going to ta...
Published: 04/20/18