The South Florida Bulls could have put a virtual lock on second place in the Sun Belt Conference on Thursday night. But Old Dominion found the key to beating the Bulls in the second half.
The Monarchs, one-point overtime losers to USF just a week ago, got 30 points from center Chris Gatling and shot 67 percent for the game to bash the Bulls 75-56 in front of 3,351 fans at The Scope.
South Florida trailed just 32-31 at halftime, but ODU (12-10, 5-4) asserted itself quickly after the break. Gatling took control of the inside and Anthony Carver (18 points) took over from the outside as the Monarchs hit 21 of 32 shots from the field in the second half.
The Bulls (15-8, 7-4), meanwhile, shot 10-of-29 after the intermission.
"We weren't persistent about ball movement," said USF coach Bobby Paschal, whose team lost its second straight after beating the Monarchs 94-93 at the Sun Dome on Feb. 7. "We didn't do a good job against their matchup zone and people weren't moving around the perimeter. We also didn't hit our outside shots and that was the difference in the game."
It didn't help that USF lost starting point guard Marvin Taylor midway through the second half when he collided with Carver and Gatling as they dove for a loose ball.
Taylor was carried off the court on a stretcher and taken to Norfolk General Hospital for precautionary X-rays. Taylor suffered a contusion, but was walking around and was expected to return to the Omni Hotel with his teammates, said USF spokesman John Gerdes.
Taylor, however, is doubtful for Saturday night's game against Virginia Commonwealth.
That play, on which Gatling eventually grabbed the loose ball for a dunk and a 58-49 lead with 7:44 remaining, came during a run by the Monarchs that put the game away. After Taylor left, USF was outscored 17-7 the rest of the way.
"When (Taylor) went out, we needed to make a run then but that is kind of tough," said the Bulls' Fred Lewis. "Maybe if he was on the bench it would have been different but not having his presence there and the fact that his well-being was in the back of our heads made it tough."
Lewis led the Bulls with 15 points. Hakim Shahid had 13 for USF and Taylor also had 13 before he left the game.
But South Florida got just two points on 1-of-10 shooting from guard Radenko Dobras in his 32 minutes.
Gatling, who had six points during the run that included Taylor's injury, hit 15-of-21 from the field.
"He pretty much dominated the game," said Paschal. "When he got the ball down low he was effective scoring and rebounding. We couldn't stop him."
- Information from staff writer Brian Landman was used in this report.