TAMPA — Coming in, USF had never won back-to-back Big East games in five seasons in the conference. And overtime wins? A week ago, the Bulls had totaled one in more than a decade.
But for the second time in five days, USF pulled out an overtime thriller, getting 28 points from Dominique Jones and knocking off Seton Hall 76-74 Thursday in front of 3,786 at the Sun Dome.
Senior guard Chris Howard hit a layup with 39 seconds left and the shot clock running down for the winning margin. Seton Hall's Herb Pope missed a potential tying free throw with seven seconds left, and USF's Jarrid Famous hit a free throw and got a late steal to seal it.
"Like I told Chris, 'I don't know what I would do without you,' " Jones said. "The layup he got, I was calling for the ball, because I always call for the ball, but I was tired. When he hit the layup, I was feeling so good. I feel like I trusted my teammates this game, again, and it paid off."
In a duel of the Big East's top-two scoring guards, Jones and Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell both went for 28 points. Hazell didn't score in overtime, however, while Jones had six points.
"Dominique Jones … was as unstoppable as Jeremy was, maybe even harder, because he got to the free-throw line and made 10 out of 11," Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said.
Famous had 15 points and 14 rebounds against a school the 6-foot-11 forward/center nearly chose out of junior college in the spring.
Howard had 12 points and one turnover in 43 minutes. USF totaled eight turnovers.
The Bulls (13-7, 3-5 Big East) had been 0-7 against the Pirates (12-7, 3-5), including last year's Big East tournament.
"You can't continue to beat teams all the time. Sooner or later, you're going to get knocked off, unless you're one of the elite teams," Gonzalez said.
USF led nearly all the second half and had a five-point lead with 90 seconds to play. But Robert Mitchell hit a 3, then Keon Lawrence scored with 27 seconds left. The Bulls, who overcame a nine-point deficit with 40 seconds to play in Saturday's win at Providence, missed two shots at the end of regulation.
Mitchell scored five seconds into overtime to give Seton Hall the lead but missed a free throw, and USF quickly answered. Neither team lead by more than two in overtime. The Bulls had been 1-9 in their last 10 overtime games until their last two wins.
Gonzalez complained about "a very big discrepancy in free throws" — the Bulls shot 31, the Pirates 19, though Seton Hall committed only three more fouls.
"I thought we were attacking the basket pretty good, but I probably wouldn't have felt so good if I lost, either," USF coach Stan Heath said.
NOTE: The Bulls are still without Gus Gilchrist but maybe not for long. Heath has said he hopes his 6-foot-10 sophomore forward, out the past seven weeks with a severe ankle sprain, will return sometime next week, possibly in time for Wednesday's game at No. 7 Georgetown. Gilchrist was leading the Bulls in scoring (18.8 ppg) and was second in rebounding (7.4 rpg) before being sidelined.