CHARLESTON, S.C. — USF's Dominique Jones didn't really care for the basketballs in use in the Charleston Classic.
He said they felt slick.
Perhaps they were, but certainly not as slick as the stat line Jones put up in the Bulls' 74-66 victory over UNC Wilmington on Sunday.
The junior guard played all 40 minutes in the third-place game and had 28 points to go with six steals, four rebounds and three assists.
"I think I just got some easy baskets off my defense," Jones said. "I really didn't like the balls they used here. I couldn't really grip them. I think I did pretty well just getting myself active on the defensive end."
Coach Stan Heath felt the same way.
"He was terrific," Heath said. "Offensively, he made a lot of big plays, but I was really more proud of his defense. The steals, the disruption in their offense ignited us."
Jones made 9 of 17 shots from the field and 9 of 14 free throws.
The Bulls (4-1) led by as many 12 points in the second half and feasted on UNCW mistakes, scoring 28 off 18 turnovers.
"They're a really good team," Jones said. "You've got to stay disciplined the whole game to beat them. We did a good job of just being tough and pulling it out. Defense carried us."
For the third time in as many tournament games, Gus Gilchrist's playing time was limited in the first half because of foul trouble. He picked up his second foul nine minutes in and went to the bench for the rest of the half.
"I'd like to get to the point where he can just play the whole game," Heath said of his 6-10 sophomore. "I do think at some point he's going to stay out there and play with those two fouls."
USF opened the tournament Thursday with a 65-58 win over Davidson and lost to South Carolina 69-66 in Friday's second round.
UNCW lost to Miami 67-60 in the second round after opening the tournament with an 80-69 victory over Penn State.
"It was a solid week," Heath said. "We definitely had aspirations to win the championship, but we're a better team for the experience. I think this time last year our focus would have been completely lost and we would have probably lost to Wilmington. I thought this team showed a lot of grit. We fought through and got the win."
"I think it was a disappointment on one end because I feel like we were supposed to be in the championship game, but I feel like it's a lift to play well," he said. "We know we can bounce back if we lose and still play with heart and passion."