Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF ends season with a rerun

TAMPA — Down 19 points in the second half, USF rallied to cut No. 19 Notre Dame's lead to one with five minutes to play, energizing a loud Sun Dome crowd hoping to see one more upset to finish out a long Big East season.

That was as close as the Bulls would come, however, as USF finished its season with another promising near-miss, with the Irish escaping with a 67-60 win.

"This game was kind of a snapshot of our season," USF coach Stan Heath said. "We battled a terrific team, went right down to the wire. It just didn't happen for us. A valiant effort, but we just came up a little short again."

USF (12-19, 3-15) finished with the same number of victories and conference wins as last season. But four of the last five losses were by a combined 13 points, and Saturday was another single-possession game in the closing minutes.

The Bulls trailed 60-58 with three minutes to play but missed their next five shots and weren't closer than five points in the final minute before a crowd of 7,875, the most in the Sun Dome in two years.

USF freshman Dominique Jones had 21 points but went 1-for-9 on 3-pointers; he and guard Jesus Verdejo keyed the 22-4 run that brought USF back from a 52-33 deficit.

"South Florida showed a lot of guts and fight to come roaring back on us," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "I'm impressed with their athletic ability, and it gave us problems tonight."

It was the final game for center Kentrell Gransberry, the Bulls' only scholarship senior who clinched his second straight Big East rebounding crown with nine boards.

"It's very tough," he said of finishing his USF career. "I was watching Brett Favre the other day, and he said all good things come to an end someday."

Gransberry added 11 points while lining up against Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, the Big East's leading scorer. Harangody matched his average with 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting and had nine rebounds.

"He's going to be the MVP of the league," said Gransberry, who went

3-for-12 from the field and missed two free throws in the final eight minutes.

The Bulls got strong games from Verdejo (11 points, five assists) and junior forward B.J. Ajayi, who had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds.

Heath was pleased with the balanced scoring and that three of his four players who scored in double digits will be back next season. Sophomore point guard Chris Howard had six assists and zero turnovers.

"That was a great formula for us early in the year," Heath said. "That's the kind of balance we need to have, where we're not dependent on one or two guys."

The Bulls, who knocked off Notre Dame in Tampa last season, finished their third season in the Big East in second-to-last place in the league standings.

Notre Dame (24-6, 14-4) finished tied for second, but the teams weren't that far apart Saturday night.

No. 19 Notre Dame 67

USF 60

USF ends season with a rerun 03/09/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 9, 2008 9:23am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]