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USF Bulls routed by No. 7 Villanova Wildcats 74-49 for third straight loss

USF’s Chris Howard, who was held to seven points, goes to the basket against Villanova’s Taylor King in the first half.

Associated Press

USF’s Chris Howard, who was held to seven points, goes to the basket against Villanova’s Taylor King in the first half.

VILLANOVA, Pa. — The four-game winning streak is now forgotten, the victory over Georgetown lost in time.

Reality has hit USF flush in the face.

On Wednesday, the Bulls absorbed their fourth loss in five games, a 74-49 whipping at the hands of No. 7 Villanova.

It was the worst defeat of the season for USF (16-11, 6-9 Big East), which was outscored 38-24 in the second half, 31-12 over the last 14:36.

"We had a hard time with their activity," said Bulls coach Stan Heath, who saw his team commit 13 of its 23 turnovers in the second half. "They were quick, a step quicker than us."

Wildcats coach Jay Wright called the game "a good response" to back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Pittsburgh, games in which he said his players "didn't play Villanova basketball."

"We did tonight," he said.

Senior guard Scottie Reynolds had 21 points and junior center Antonio Pena 14 to pace the Wildcats (23-4, 12-3), who next face No. 4 Syracuse on the road Saturday.

The Bulls, who had capped that four-game winning streak with their victory at then-No. 7 Georgetown on Feb. 3, hung around for a while Wednesday, cutting a 39-25 deficit early in the second half to 43-37 on a 3-pointer by star guard Dominique Jones with 14:36 left.

But Villanova pulled away after that. Reynolds hit a 3. Guard Corey Stokes, who had 11 points to crack double figures for only the 10th time all season, had a three-point play. Reserve guard Dominic Cheek crammed six of his eight points into a two-minute span.

And the Bulls kept turning it over.

"That was the story of the game for us," Heath said.

That, and the fact that Jones, who in Heath's words was "battling a little bit of a bug," never did get on track. He shot 2-for-10 from the field and finished with a team-leading 12 points, nearly 10 fewer than his average. He missed all five of his shots from the field and was limited to four points in the first half.

Three regular-season games remain for the reeling Bulls.

"No question, we've made some positive steps this season, but we want more," Heath said. "We're not satisfied with where we are. We want to close out with more wins and get as high a seed as we can in the Big East Tournament, and go from there."

No. 7 Villanova 74

USF 49

USF Bulls routed by No. 7 Villanova Wildcats 74-49 for third straight loss 02/24/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 8:22am]
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