TAMPA -- Stan Heath prides himself in making rebounding a priority, so it's all the more frustrating to see the way his undersized teams have struggled on the boards in a disappointing 2-2 start.
On Sunday, the Bulls were outrebounded 39-26 by Western Michigan -- somehow just two offensive rebounds off 29 missed field goals -- then hit just 23 percent of their shots in the second half, taking a tough 58-53 loss in the Sun Dome to finish the USF Invitational.
"I don't like getting outrebounded," Heath said. "If there's one thing that's a staple of how I feel you need to play, it's that rebounding needs to be a strength. We need to outrebound the other team. When that happens to us, I know that's a problem. ... It is a concern."
Point guard Anthony Collins set a career high with 12 assists (USF only had 17 made field goals), and the Bulls got their scoring from seniors Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (14 points) and Shaun Noriega (16), but each went just 4-for-11 from the field. Shots couldn't fall down the stretch, as USF missed all four attempts in the final minute.
"In the second half, we just could not find the basket," Heath said. "We had good looks, we had open threes, layups around the rim and they didn't go down. We need to finish those plays. ... We have to become a better team at finishing. We were very good in the past of the last 2-3 minutes when it's a one-point game."
USF led 35-27 late in the first half, but Western Michigan ended the half on a 7-1 run, then opened the second on a 7-2 spurt for a 43-38 lead. The Bulls did lead after that -- Noriega scored six points in a row for a 46-45 lead -- but USF had just five points in the final eight minutes.
USF stays home to play Bradley on Tuesday, then travels to Stetson on Nov. 26 after the holiday weekend.