PISCATAWAY, N.J. — For the third time in four tries, a USF basketball game came down to the final seconds.
And again the Bulls were left empty.
Kadeem Jack's offbalance shot in the lane with 11.1 seconds left Saturday won it for Rutgers, which rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to defeat the Bulls 74-73 and hand them their sixth consecutive loss, a season high.
Victor Rudd had 26 points to lead USF (12-17, 3-13 American Athletic Conference), but his layup with about 2 seconds left fell off the rim. John Egbunu, who was denied on a drive seconds earlier, could not convert the tip.
"Our guys laid their hearts out and played one heck of a game," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "It was probably 36 minutes of the best basketball we've played. In a four-minute stretch, we let our guard down."
The loss ended USF's shot at a first-round bye in the conference tournament, March 12-15 in Memphis. The top six seeds in the 10-team tourney get byes into the quarterfinals.
This loss also followed on the heels of a last-second loss Feb. 15 against UCF and Wednesday's loss to Connecticut, in which the Bulls got within two in the final minute.
Jack and J.J. Moore had 20 points apiece as the Scarlet Knights (11-18, 5-11) snapped a four-game losing streak.
Neither team led by more than four in the final 12-plus minutes, and there were eight lead changes in the last 5:38. Rudd gave the Bulls the lead with a step-back jumper in the lane with 32.8 seconds to play.
After a timeout to set up a play, Rutgers worked the ball inside, and Jack muscled his way up in the lane and hit his shot from roughly 10 feet.
Rudd has 1,156 career points, tying Willie Redden for 13th on the school's list. The senior also had a game-high nine rebounds.
Egbunu had 12 points and Zach LeDay 10 for USF.