NEWARK, N.J. — Stan Heath did not miss the opportunity to point out the similarity to his team.
Down seven at halftime to Seton Hall, the USF coach reminded his players in the locker room that it had been down eight to Georgetown on Saturday before the Bulls rallied for their first Big East victory of the season.
That is where the parallel ended. Where they had came out with a barrage of 3-pointers against the Hoyas, it was one missed opportunity after another Wednesday night in the Bulls' 55-47 loss to Seton Hall at the Prudential Center.
The Pirates took an eight-point lead midway through the first half, and USF was forced to chase from there. It became a game of unsustainable momentum for the Bulls, each run met with a push back from the Pirates, and their first conference win was followed by a loss to the team that had shared rent in the Big East basement.
"It's just a roller coaster," Heath said of the game. "We're making progress, and we take a step back. We're making progress, and we take a step back. So at the end of the day the shooting wasn't there, more than anything else. We had some good looks, sometimes we rushed it, but we just didn't make enough shots."
Jawanza Poland had 13 points to lead the Bulls (10-8, 1-5 Big East) for the third straight game. Point guard Anthony Collins had 10 assists while scoring six.
The Pirates (13-6, 2-4) were determined to take away the 3-point shot from USF, its bread and butter. Facing a zone, the Bulls hit just 3 of 19 long-range tries; they had gone into the night averaging 6.5 per game. USF shot just 33.9 percent overall (19-of-56).
The final minute was emblematic. After USF had cut an 11-point deficit to 53-47, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick missed a 3 with 56 seconds left. Following a missed free throw by Fuquan Edwin, Victor Rudd misfired on a 3 with 37 seconds remaining, and Poland missed the tip-in.
"Three-point shots were the story of the game," Heath said. "More than anything else, the 3-point shot and our inability to make it was the story of the game. When you're playing a team that's playing zone, you have to make some shots."
It was an ill-timed performance considering their defense was burned by the Pirates, who shot 52.5 percent for the game and outrebounded USF by 13. Edwin led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds.