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USF Bulls deflate in home loss to Providence

USF’s Dominique Jones, who scored a game-high 29, gets through the defense. “It’s frustrating … that people don’t have it in their heart to just come out and play hard,’’ Jones said.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

USF’s Dominique Jones, who scored a game-high 29, gets through the defense. “It’s frustrating … that people don’t have it in their heart to just come out and play hard,’’ Jones said.

TAMPA — After USF's upset of No. 8 Marquette on Friday night, coach Stan Heath said he didn't want the historic win to be a "Christmas experience," the kind of event you celebrate once a year.

Four days later, his Bulls had the energy and excitement you might expect to find … on Dec. 29.

USF, seeking back-to-back Big East wins for the first time, saw none of the same emotion or intensity Tuesday night in the Sun Dome, unable to keep up with Providence in a 77-62 loss.

"It's frustrating people don't take it more serious, that people don't have it in their heart to just come out and play hard," said guard Dominique Jones, who had a game-high 29 points. "Knowing everybody came out there nonchalant … if you're just out there shooting the ball, not playing defense, messing up the whole team chemistry."

Two things were glaring for the Bulls (8-15, 3-8) Tuesday: the total lack of depth against one of the league's most balanced teams, and atrocious free-throw shooting. The bench was outscored 35-6 and USF hit just 5 of 16 free throws.

"This wasn't what I expected, not necessarily winning or losing, just how we played," Heath said. "We went from a very hungry team that was on a mission together, and tonight it just wasn't there."

USF led 26-21, but Providence ended the first half on a 20-6 run to lead 41-32. The Bulls scored the first five points, prompting a Friars timeout, but Providence scored the next seven to regain control.

The Bulls made one more run, scoring eight straight to cut the Providence lead to five with 4:15 to play. Jones' dunk prompted a Friars timeout, but on their next possession, Brian McKenzie hit a 3-pointer. Providence hit its next six free throws to put the game away.

"We don't give ourselves a chance when we go to the line and don't cash in at a higher rate," Heath said. "Those were frustrating things that happened tonight. Dominique was trying to carry us by himself but it wasn't enough."

Freshman forward Gus Gilchrist went 1-for-10 from the field and had enough defensive lapses that Heath benched him for the final 11:29. Providence's Jonathan Kale and Randall Hanke went a combined 11-for-13 in the post, combining for 29 points.

It was USF's seventh loss by 15 points or more this season; last season's team had three such losses. The Bulls play Sunday at Notre Dame, which has lost seven straight.

Providence 77

USF 62

USF Bulls deflate in home loss to Providence 02/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 11:56pm]

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