SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After USF missed its first three shots and turned the ball over twice to start Tuesday's game against Notre Dame, coach Stan Heath took a timeout looking for better offensive production.
Heath and the Bulls never really found that production, falling 60-49 in a road Big East matchup in which they never led.
"We had some layups and shots in close. When you don't make those, you get a little frustrated and it seems like the next plays don't happen as well," Heath said. "I think it was a little bit of their defense, but I think it was a lot of us."
The Bulls (9-8, 2-2) shot 38.2 percent and made 1 of 13 3-point attempts in a game that was up for grabs for the first 30 minutes.
Down by three with 9:17 left, the Bulls went on a five-minute scoreless drought while Notre Dame (11-6, 3-1) opened a 17-point lead. USF ended its drought only after Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley was called for a technical foul and Jawanza Poland hit the two free throws.
Three Irish players scored in double figures, led by forward Jack Cooley's 16 points and seven rebounds. Guard Scott Martin had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Jerian Grant added 14 points.
"Notre Dame played a very good basketball game," Heath said. "Their teamwork was outstanding. They hurt us with some matchups out there on the court."
Augustus Gilchrist led a struggling Bulls offense with 13 points and five rebounds. Poland scored 12 off the bench.
Despite the loss, forward Ron Anderson Jr., who had six points and 10 rebounds off the bench, said the team is starting to grow together.
"As a team, we're a lot more comfortable," Anderson said. "The seniors have another year playing with each other, and the chemistry is building."