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USF Bulls come up short late against Central Michigan

USF guard Dominique Jones, left, has one of his costly late turnovers, losing the ball to Antonio Weary, who dunked.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

USF guard Dominique Jones, left, has one of his costly late turnovers, losing the ball to Antonio Weary, who dunked.

TAMPA — USF's first game without forward Gus Gilchrist was a struggle Sunday, as the Bulls had three chances for at least a tie in the final minute but took a home 59-56 loss to Central Michigan.

Down five with 1:30 to play, the Bulls (7-2) got baskets from Dominique Jones and Mike Mercer to trail by one with 37 seconds left. The Bulls had the ball with a chance to win, but Jones' pass to Mercer went out of bounds, then freshman Shaun Noriega's 3-pointer to tie missed with seven seconds left. Jones, who scored a game-high 24 but had costly late turnovers, missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.

"A lot of glaring holes… holes I hadn't seen before," said USF coach Stan Heath, who started four guards. "But it's fixable. It's disappointing we've got to address it after a loss."

The Bulls will be without Gilchrist, their leading scorer at 18.8 points per game, for at least six weeks — Heath said Sunday that the 6-foot-10 sophomore has torn ligaments as part of a high ankle sprain — but CMU kept 6-11 center Jarrid Famous from doing much, either. Famous had five points, on 1-for-3 shooting, and one rebound in 32 minutes.

"We had no post presence," Heath said. "I think it affected not only our scoring inside but our 3-point shooting, too."

The Bulls had trailed 52-45 with less than six minutes left but rallied to tie it on a dunk by Famous with 3:19 left. CMU (4-5) answered with a three-point play, then Jones slipped and lost the ball, leading to a breakaway dunk.

USF rallied back to be in position to hit a winning shot, and after Amir Rashid hit two free throws with 12 seconds left for a three-point lead, Heath put the ball in the hands of Noriega, a freshman who hadn't taken a shot all night and played just three minutes. An open shot from the wing rimmed out.

"Absolutely, he can make that shot," Heath said. "He's a guy I think is always cocked, loaded and ready.."

The Bulls close out a five-game homestand Wednesday against Central Florida.

C. Mich. 59

USF 56

USF Bulls come up short late against Central Michigan 12/13/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:08pm]
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