Saturday, May 26, 2018
Sports

USF stymied by Louisville

TAMPA — In the first half, after USF had jumped out to an 11-8 lead on No. 12 Louisville, the Cardinals went on a 22-3 run.

In the second half, after USF had pulled back to within 36-30, the Cards went on a 19-3 run.

Those long droughts played a key role in Louisville's 59-41 win Sunday before an announced crowd of 7,368 at the Sun Dome, which leads to another bad USF run: Eight straight losses for the Bulls (10-15, 1-12 Big East), the longest skid since Stan Heath's first season in 2007-08.

"That's a really, really good team. They hit you in so many ways," Heath said. "To see some of their big guys … the way they can just recover on a play. We've got a stone layup, and those guys chase you down, come out of nowhere, change it, block it. Wow. … They create a lot of disruption. When they're playing at their best, they're definitely a Final Four-caliber team that can win it all."

The Bulls went 4-for-27 from the field in the second half (14.8 percent), finishing the game at 24.5 percent. It's the Bulls' worst shooting performance since … hitting 23.4 percent in a 68-40 loss to Villanova eight days earlier. The Bulls hit one of their last 14 3-point attempts as well.

"The ball stopped going in," senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick said. "It's hard to create momentum when the ball's not going in. … Louisville's a good team, so when you don't do the little things, they make you pay."

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whose team lost to USF in its final home game last season, said the lack of strong post players is the biggest difference from the Bulls team that reached the NCAA Tournament's third round in March.

"There's not a whole lot of post presence," said Pitino, whose team had a 32-14 edge in the post. "(Heath) is just one or two guys away from having a very good team, but he is one or two guys away."

USF held Louisville's Peyton Siva to two points in 30 minutes, but he had seven assists, and Russ Smith went for 15 and Chane Behanan for 12.

The Bulls had the ball down by seven with less than 12 minutes remaining, but a turnover by Martino Brock led to a dunk by Wayne Blackshear, and USF would go a full eight minutes without hitting a field goal. By then, the Bulls were trailing by 22.

The losing streak is USF's longest since it dropped 10 straight in 2007-08; the only streak longer in the Big East era was 17 straight near the end of the 2005-06 season.

Jawanza Poland led the Bulls with 11 points off the bench, while Victor Rudd and Kore White had nine rebounds each as the Bulls held their own on the boards. USF next plays at St. John's on Wednesday night.

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