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USF’s late-game heroics don’t carry into overtime

David Collins’ two free throws in the final second extend the game, but the Bulls still fall to Wichita State.
David Collins, pictured during a game against Florida College in November, led USF with 17 points, including two free throws late in regulation to force overtime.
David Collins, pictured during a game against Florida College in November, led USF with 17 points, including two free throws late in regulation to force overtime. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Dec. 23, 2020|Updated Dec. 23, 2020

TAMPA — With 0.4 seconds left in regulation Tuesday night, USF guard David Collins stood at the foul line with an opportunity to shoot three free throws after getting fouled on a last-ditch 3-point attempt.

If Collins made all three, the Bulls almost assuredly would have pulled out a one-point victory against visiting Wichita State.

Collins made two, the last one bouncing around the rim before finally falling in, forcing overtime.

But USF failed to capitalize on its last-second heroics in the extra five minutes, falling 82-77 before a socially distanced crowd of around 300 at the Yuengling Center. The loss was even more painful considering it was the first chance the Bulls had to begin conference play with a 2-0 record since 2001.

Instead, USF — which started American Athletic Conference play with a promising 73-71 victory on Dec. 16 at Cincinnati — dropped to 1-1 in conference play and 5-3 overall. Wichita State improved to 2-0, 4-2.

“In this league, you have to play 40 minutes, in this case 45 minutes, to be successful and we didn’t do that,” USF coach Brian Gregory said. “For us, we need to do two things much better: limit our turnovers (USF had 18) and shoot better from the free-throw line (27-of-41 for 65.9 percent). We need to limit the turnovers to 12 or less and shoot better than 70 percent from the free-throw line.”

Often through the first half, it looked like USF might continue its promising play, holding a 27-14 lead with 2:38 remaining on the clock.

But the Shockers steadily chipped away at the lead and the Bulls, who maintained a consistent advantage on the boards  (54-39), began to look out of sorts in transition or simply off the mark. 

USF started the game by sinking three of its first six 3-point attempts. However, the Bulls finished the half making only one of its final eight shots from behind the arc. By game’s end, the Bulls shot 8-of-24 from 3-point territory.

Meanwhile, Wichita State proceeded to heat up and took its first lead with 7:37 left in the game.

Collins attributed a lot of the Bulls’ trouble to poor ball-handling and lamented the fact he didn’t sink all of his free-throw attempts at the end.

“Way too many turnovers,” he said. “At the foul line … You have to make that third one (with 0.4 seconds remaining).”

There was a bit of controversy regarding Collins’ final free-throw attempts, because on two of them it appeared Wichita State called a timeout after Collins was handed the ball, which is a violation.

Gregory, however, said the officals told him Wichita State called timeout before they handed Collins the ball.

“I was too busy praying at that time to pay attention to what exactly was happening (with the handing off the ball to Collins),” Gregory said. “We’ll have to take a look at the film to see exactly what happened.”

Collins led USF with 17 points, followed by freshman Caleb Murphy with 14. Justin Brown had 12 points, and Alexis Yetna 11.

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