Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

USF hangs on to beat Alabama 66-64

TAMPA — USF nearly found itself on the other end of a crazy comeback in Saturday night's 66-64 win over Alabama.

The Bulls (6-2), who had rallied from 17 points down in a dramatic 68-66 road win over George Mason on Wednesday, almost let one slip away against the Crimson Tide (4-4).

USF held an eight-point lead with just more than two minutes left, but Alabama cut it to one in a final-minute flurry.

"I was nervous," freshman Chris Perry said. "I almost blacked out."

With the Bulls up two in the final seconds, 6-foot-10 center John Egbunu swatted a shot right back to Shannon Hale, who missed the potential winning 3-pointer before the buzzer.

"The thought goes to my head all the time, 'John, you jump so high, catch it!' " USF guard Anthony Collins quipped.

Collins helped seal the Bulls' second straight victory by going 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 34 seconds.

Coach Stan Heath believes his team has grown up heading into a 10-day break.

"Anytime your team goes through close games and you have success, you gain confidence," Heath said. "We've taken a step."

Heath said Perry had his best game, matching a career high with 14 points and adding 14 rebounds. Senior Victor Rudd had 11 of his 15 points in the second half. And senior Musa Abdul-Aleem provided a lift off the bench with nine points.

The Bulls missed nine of their first 11 shots and trailed by as many as seven early but led 29-25 at the half. The Bulls' trend of slow second-half starts continued, with Alabama going on a 9-3 run to re-take the lead just five minutes in. But Aleem came through again, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Bulls back in front 38-35.

The Bulls had a five-point lead before Alabama's leading scorer, senior guard Trevor Releford (17 points), quickly erased it. Releford, held to four points in the first half, rattled off nine straight to put Alabama up 44-40 midway through the second.

But Perry played big in the final comeback. He put in an offensive rebound. He hit a left-handed hook. Then he hustled to keep a rebound alive, tipping the ball Rudd, who drove in for a three-point play, making it 53-48 USF.

"(Perry) was terrific," Heath said. "I thought his inside play, his rebounding, gave us something that we really needed."

And Egbunu, whom Heath calls their "rim protector," gave USF the biggest block in a wild finish.

Said Heath: "It could have gone either way."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow him @TBTimes_JSmith.

     
   
Comments
Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

After a decade at Tropicana Field, the Gasparilla Bowl is moving across the bay to Raymond James Stadium, bowl officials announced Wednesday morning.The move begins this year, with RJS set to host ESPN's game at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20. The stadium's other...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Twitter agrees: This plaque looks nothing like Brandi Chastain

Twitter agrees: This plaque looks nothing like Brandi Chastain

A bronze plaque meant to honor U.S. soccer great Brandi Chastain is said to look more like actor Gary Busey or Biff from Back to the Future than it does the World Cup winner and Olympic athlete.In a ceremony hosted Monday at the Westin St. Francis Ho...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays morning after: Faria frustrated after latest letdown

Rays morning after: Faria frustrated after latest letdown

Whatever pain RHP Jake Faria was feeling as a result of the oblique muscle on the left side he strained throwing a fourth-inning slider to Boston's Hanley Ramirez couldn't compare to the hurt in his heart.Forced to leave Tuesday's game and likely hea...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Saint Leo softball in the hunt for Division II title

Saint Leo softball in the hunt for Division II title

ST. LEO — History, both recent and program-encompassing, would not have suggested Saint Leo's softball team get any farther than a few games into the postseason.But this has been a history-making kind of week for Lions athletics. After ear...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Now that we’ve got Gators-Bulls, what about the Willie Bowl?

Now that we’ve got Gators-Bulls, what about the Willie Bowl?

Now that USF has added another proverbial prime cut (Florida) to its non-conference football slate, one can only ponder how much beefier it can get.We know you've tossed around a few tantalizing matchups in your head, and truth be told, so have we.Re...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Stat to watch in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Stat to watch in Game 7

We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team what's the statistic to watch in tonight's Game 7 of the Lightning-Capitals series (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Here's their answers. Share yours in the comments section below:Martin Fennelly, columnist:&#...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Who is the most compelling personality in Lightning-Capitals Game 7?We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for their answer. Who's yours? Please share in the comments section and feel free to take issue with our answers.JOIN the Lightning Strike...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential

TAMPA — He’s the Lightning’s best player. He’s its most important player. Well, other than goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That’s a given. Every team relies most heavily on its goalie. But if the Lightning is going win a ne...
Updated: 6 hours ago