TAMPA — It wasn't a record-setting defensive performance, but it came awfully close for USF in Saturday night's 55-37 win against Northeastern in the Sun Dome.
"I thought it was our best performance, maybe even last year as well, especially from the defensive end," said coach Stan Heath, whose team allowed the second-fewest points in USF's 38 seasons of basketball. "We really defended well."
The Bulls (3-1) held Northeastern (3-3) to 11 points in the first half on 13.7 percent shooting; it wasn't until two minutes remained in the game that the Huskies shot well enough to avoid the worst opposing shooting percentage in Bulls history. They finished at 24.1 percent; the record of 23.3 came against Florida Atlantic in 2005.
The Bulls, who shot 46.3 percent as a team, got 19 points from guard Dominique Jones and another strong game from forward Aris Williams, who had 11 points, matching the career high he set in Tuesday's win against High Point.
Jones had four assists and two steals but missed four 3-pointers, dropping him to 1-for-15 on the season.
"His best (performance) this year, clearly," Heath said. "Good all-around floor game. His best defensive performance. Free throws, 8-for-8, terrific. Now if we can get him to make a 3, we're in business."
Heath said the key to the game was guard Chris Howard's defense on Huskies guard Matt Janning, who came in averaging 20 points. He went 1-for-11 from the field, scoring three. Northeastern already had a road win against a Big East team this season, at Providence.
It was an ugly start for the Bulls, who trailed 11-10 with 5:20 left in the first half. USF ended the half on a 12-0 run, however, and Northeastern got no closer than 11 in the second half. The game drew an announced crowd of 2,818 to the Sun Dome.
In its history, USF had held opponents under 40 points just four times, and only once (against UNC-Wilmington in 1995) in the past 23 years. The record low of 34 came against St. Peter's in 1985. Northeastern scored eight in the final three minutes to avoid that record.
The Bulls' next two games are on the road, with a game at Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday, then a trip to Central Florida on Saturday. They return home Dec. 14 against Niagara.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346.