The USF Bulls (1-0) were able to withstand a late rally by the Vermont Catamounts (0-1) and held on for a 61-59 win in the season opener for both schools. After stretching out a 12 point lead halfway through the second half, the Catamounts slowly took the game over, and had a chance to send it to overtime. However, Four McGlynn missed a layup with a second left, and Matt Glass' successful putback was ruled after the final buzzer. Most of the time officials would go to the video monitor to confirm the decision, but there were no videos available for the officials and the Bulls were able to escape with a 2 point win.
The Bulls were even more shorthanded than usual tonight as backup forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was suspended after participating in a summer league game. Fitzpatrick's suspension along with Anthony Collins and Jawanza Poland missing the game due to injuries, the Bulls only had seven scholarship players available tonight.
Even with the limited numbers, the Bulls were able to spread the points around. Ron Anderson Jr. led USF in scoring with 16 points and rebounds with 9. Shaun Noriega added 15 points on 4-5 shooting from deep, and Augustus Gilchrist and Victor Rudd 11 points each.
Vermont had three players in double-figures, with McGlynn leading all scorers with 17 points and Matt Glass and Like Apfield added 13 and 10 points respectively.
Here are my thoughts on the game..
1. I'm actually a little surprised we won with only seven scholarship players tonight. Vermont is going to win at least 20 games this season, and I think they'll make some nice in the American East. Fitzpatrick will be back Monday against Marist, but don't expect Anthony Collins until the Florida Southern game at the earliest.
2. LaBlanthony Conasity had a pretty solid game in the season opener. While Collins didn't play, Blake Nash and LaVonte Dority combined for 6 points and 6 assists while committing zero turnovers. While you'd like them to do a bit more from the field, seeing them go mistake free was a great thing to see.
3. We saw it on the Cover it Live from Toro's observations, but Augustus Gilchrist did not have a good night. Gus had a poor overall shooting game going 6-16 from the field, and was not able to pass out of the double team effectively. He has to be better if USF is to win later in the year.
4. USF was an insanely good 46% good from three-point land. That was an extremely rare sight to see last year, and let's hope Shaun Noriega and Victor Rudd can keep this up the rest of the year.
5. On the other end of the spectrum, WORK ON YOUR FREE THROWS! This will bite us if we can't get dramatically better than 54% from the line. Actually it almost did tonight.
The Bulls have a quick turnaround as they welcome in the Marist Red Foxes to the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday.