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 loses to UCF in final seconds

TAMPA — For those convinced USF had forgotten how to coach, shoot and compete in the wake of its most humiliating defeat of the season, the Bulls spent Saturday offering a fairly resounding rebuttal.

They just couldn't close their case.

Senior Isaiah Sykes' left-handed runner near the left block with 1.8 seconds to play lifted UCF to a 75-74 triumph, atoning for a one-point overtime loss to USF in Orlando 10 days earlier.

Martino Brock's ensuing desperation shot just inside halfcourt bounced off the back of the rim, leaving most in the Sun Dome crowd of 5,294 deflated, which still beats despondent. Three nights earlier, USF (12-14, 3-10 American Athletic Conference) had been embarrassed, 83-40, at Connecticut on national TV.

"I'm sure (fans) were worried about, 'Are they still gonna battle and still gonna fight?' Hopefully that answered the questions for our fans," said coach Stan Heath, whose team scrapped through 10 lead changes and enjoyed one of its best shooting efforts (49.1 percent).

"I know morale-wise, those guys are gonna hurt from this loss, and they should; I am, too. But it's just a part of the season. You've got to bounce back, and you've got to keep fighting."

Any fears about a UConn hangover were answered in less than four minutes, when the worst 3-point shooting team in Division I got two treys from guard Corey Allen.

USF finished with six 3s (its most in a league game this season), a 31-30 rebounding edge and a career game from Brock (21 points), whose array of baseline shots and putbacks resulted in his most prolific day in a Bulls jersey.

But in the end, USF had few answers for Sykes, a 6-foot-6 left-hander from Detroit.

On the final Knights possession, Sykes (27 points) got a screen from 6-foot-10, 310-pound freshman Justin McBride near the top of the key and drove to the left side of the lane, where the Bulls' intended trap never materialized.

"We rolled (McBride) out into a screen, overloaded the other side and just let those two guys play together," said coach Donnie Jones, whose Knights (10-13, 2-10) snapped a nine-game skid.

Sykes' layup bounced three times off the right side of the rim before falling in.

"That's all we were talking about was trapping that," Heath said. "The angle I think (center) John (Egbunu) had just wasn't the right angle to trap. Still, it wasn't horrible. (Sykes) made a hard shot."

Preceding Sykes' winner was a foiled Bulls possession, in which Shemiye McLendon's off-balance jumper in the paint fell short. Victor Rudd (21 points), the first option, had his attempted pick-and-roll neutralized by guard Calvin Newell's ball denial.

"I thought Shemiye got deep, he got the ball where we wanted it," Heath said. "But the ball kind of slipped out of his hands at the very last second, and I think that's what changed his shot at the end."

USF loses to UCF in final seconds 02/15/14 [Last modified: Saturday, February 15, 2014 9:55pm]
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 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]
  3. 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).
  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]