TAMPA ― If only slightly, the odds of USF’s breakthrough season including a postseason are starting to dwindle.
Sophomore David Collins’ two missed free throws with 0.8 seconds to play preserved Temple’s 70-69 overtime victory Saturday before one of the loudest Yuengling Center audiences (announced at 4,898) of the season.
Collins, who finished with 15 points and made his first four free throws of overtime, was fouled after snagging a long in-bounds throw by T.J. Lang, setting up his final trip to the line. USF, 332nd nationally in free-throw percentage entering the contest (63.6 percent), finished 13-for-23 from the stripe (56.5).
“People are gonna say the two free-throws at the end, but that didn’t cost us the game,” said Bulls second-year coach Brian Gregory, whose over-achieving club has lost two in a row. “Yes, if he makes 'em we win the game, but we made six, seven, eight critical errors, which is part of the game. They made errors, too.”
The Bulls (17-8, 7-6 AAC) remain without a victory against a team in the top 65 of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings. They’ve now dropped 11 in a row to the Owls (19-7, 9-4), including a pair in overtime this season.
But they had their chances on a wild evening of ebbs and flows.
“A hell of a game,” said Gregory, whose team also fell to the Owls in overtime in Philadelphia, 82-80, on Jan. 12. “We’ve played 'em now 80, 90 minutes and it’s a three-point difference.”
A 45-36 Bulls second-half lead evaporated in a bizarre 1:06 span in which Temple converted three consecutive baskets in transition (including a dunk), two of them via Bulls turnovers.
They regained the lead, 59-56, on Laquincy Rideau’s traditional three-point play with 1:49 remaining, but didn’t attempt another field goal in regulation, committing two turnovers down the stretch.
Temple took a five-point lead early in overtime, but USF rallied behind Rideau, who scored six of his 16 points on three tough inside baskets off dribble penetration. Owls senior Shizz Alston (24 points) drew a foul with 1.5 seconds to play and hit the second of two free throws, giving Temple a 70-69 lead.
“To win that game, you’ve got to make some plays,” Gregory said. “And what ends up happening if you analyze it, they made probably one more play than we did. And that’s the difference.”
In Saturday’s first game, the injury-ravaged Bulls women (13-12, 4-7) outscored Tulsa 16-2 in the fourth period to pull away for a 59-48 triumph. USF, playing without freshman point guard Sydni Harvey (concussion), had no opening-night starter in its starting five against the Golden Hurricane.
Freshman Luize Septe had the best game of her young career (16 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals) for USF.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.