Richmond 56, USF 46
On the court, it was frustratingly slow and plodding for the Bulls. At the free-throw line, it was worse. And on the scoreboard, USF's 56-46 loss to a 3-3 Richmond team was bad enough to stall much of the momentum the Bulls had built in a 4-0 start to their season.
"There were so many reasons or causes for frustration," coach Robert McCullum said. "When you shoot 39 percent, when you go 40 percent from the free-throw line and, whatever, 15 percent from 3, when you shoot that poorly, you need to knock down free throws."
The Bulls (4-1), yielding their uptempo game to Richmond's Princeton-style offense, let the lack of scoring reach all the way to free throws, where they hit six of their first 18 attempts. Richmond (4-3), meanwhile, couldn't miss a 3-pointer, going 7-for-13 with six players hitting from beyond the arc.
USF's only lead came at 21-20 late in the first half, and Richmond scored the last seven for a 27-21 halftime lead. A nine-point deficit was cut to 41-38 with 4:44 to play, but the Spiders answered with 3-pointers by reserve guard David Gonzalvez and 6-foot-9 forward Jarhon Giddings.
"We played their game. We let them get the game into a slow-down game," said senior Melvin Buckley, the Big East's leading scorer, who went 2-for-11 for eight points, 14 under his average. "The shots were the same. We shot 20 free throws, they shot 20 free throws. They shot 13 3s, we shot 13. The difference is they hit 'em, we missed 'em."
Senior forward McHugh Mattis led the Bulls with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, but he also set the tone for the night at the line, going 3-for-9 in the first half.
"That was the biggest problem," he said. "We came out and only made (four) in the first half, so it killed us a lot. They just weren't falling."
Richmond is 3-0 against USF under McCullum, but none of those wins came on the road against a Big East team, making Tuesday's win especially gratifying.
"To beat a Big East team on the road, I mean, how many nonconference losses is the Big East going to have total on home courts? Probably less than 10," said second-year Spiders coach Chris Mooney, a 34-year-old who started four years at Princeton under Pete Carril.
USF's 46 points was its fewest in 43 nonconference games under McCullum, and Buckley called the loss a "wakeup call," which means the Bulls weren't awakened last week when they needed double overtime to edge Stetson.
At least the Bulls' road trip starts easy, opening Thursday at Winston-Salem State, which is 1-10.
Also Tuesday, former Bulls star Reggie Kohn addressed his abrupt resignation Sunday as the team's director of basketball operations, stressing that his departure was for personal reasons unrelated to USF.
"I want people to know that 100 percent, this has nothing to do with Coach McCullum," Kohn said. "I absolutely respect and love Coach and his staff."
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3346.