LAS VEGAS — USF outhustled, outshot and outplayed Santa Clara on Monday night in the third-place game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. The Bulls still came up short thanks to a futile performance from the free-throw line.
Santa Clara (7-6) shot only 38.2 percent from the field but pulled off the 66-65 victory when Jared Brownridge did what the Bulls couldn't do consistently the entire game: make two crucial free throws with 10 seconds left to put his team ahead for good.
"We can't lose games that way, that's hard," USF coach Stan Heath said. "The kids played their hearts out. I think we did everything in the world you can think of that would give you the win, but shoot free throws."
While the Bulls (8-4) shot 55.1 percent from the field, they were 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) from the free-throw line.
"We played hard and played well as a team … we're normally a pretty solid free-throw shooting team, sometimes we have our off days, but we've never had one like that before," Heath said.
"We gave away the game at the end … we can't keep losing games like that," said senior Victor Rudd, who was named to the all-tournament team. "It's hard because we usually have A.C. (injured Anthony Collins) handling the ball at the end of the game, but we still gotta find a way to win."
Brownridge's 3-pointer with 53.8 seconds left gave Santa Clara (7-6) a 64-63 lead, capping a 9-0 run that erased USF's 63-55 lead with four minutes left.
Rudd, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, had a chance to win it, but after driving the left side of the lane and having his shot blocked with four seconds left, he got the rebound, dribbled to the 3-point line and just missed off the right side of the rim as time expired.