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USF rallies from 19 down, beats Bethune-Cookman in overtime

Published Dec. 13, 2016

TAMPA —- Fresh off a nine-day break, USF looked like it would have rather been anywhere other than the Sun Dome for most of Monday night's basketball meeting with Bethune-Cookman.

The Bulls trailed by 13 at halftime, a deficit that increased to 19 in the second half. All signs seemed pointed toward one of the most deflating defeats in the program's 46-year history against a team that entered 334th of 351 teams in RPI.

But the Bulls began chipping away behind Bo Zeigler's 20 points off the bench. And with six seconds remaining, a pair of free throws by Geno Thorpe forced overtime.

There, they prevailed, putting any thought of an upset away to escape with a wild 79-73 victory before a generously announced crowd of 2,207.

It was USF's largest come-from-behind victory under Orlando Antigua, besting a 15-point rally against Hofstra in 2014.

"You can't take anything for granted," the third-year coach said. "You've got to come out from the beginning and you've got to play with that kind of fight and that kind of energy. And as a young team, they've got to learn that."

Two weeks after arguably their most crisp first half in some time in a home win over Kennesaw State, the Bulls (5-3) came out Monday with a stinker, committing 11 turnovers. The Wildcats (3-8) went on an 18-4 run to build a lead they held for more than 35 minutes in regulation.

But USF celebrated at the final horn.

"We're glad we got the win," Zeigler said, "but we know we've got a lot of stuff to improve on."

BETHUNE-COOKMAN (3-8): Suggs 3-5 0-0 6, Lewis 4-12 2-3 10, Baker 4-16 1-2 10, Forrest 8-18 3-5 21, Tabb 6-14 5-5 21, Manzie 0-3 1-2 1, Salaam 2-6 0-0 4, Altidort 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-74 12-17 73.

SOUTH FLORIDA (5-3): Da Silva 5-7 2-4 12, Fitts 4-8 1-3 12, Guerrero 1-1 2-2 4, Bibby 0-2 0-0 0, Thorpe 1-6 6-6 8, Santos 1-3 1-3 3, Zeigler 10-12 0-4 20, Bodway 0-1 0-0 0, McMurray 7-16 3-4 20. Totals 29-56 15-26 79.

HalftimeBethune-Cookman 44-31. End Of RegulationTied 66. 3-Point GoalsBethune-Cookman 7-21 (Tabb 4-7, Forrest 2-5, Baker 1-5, Lewis 0-1, Salaam 0-3), South Florida 6-19 (Fitts 3-6, McMurray 3-8, Bibby 0-2, Thorpe 0-3). Fouled OutTabb. ReboundsBethune-Cookman 37 (Lewis , Baker, Suggs 7), South Florida 38 (Da Silva 15). AssistsBethune-Cookman 15 (Lewis 8), South Florida 15 (Thorpe 6). Total FoulsBethune-Cookman 19, South Florida 15. A2,207 (10,411).

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