Toarlyn Fitzpatrick scored the game winning three-point play with 55 seconds to go as the USF Bulls (10-8, 3-2) pulled out a 56-55 win over the #24 Seton Hall Pirates (15-3, 4-2) 56-55 tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Jordan Theodore had a chance to give the Pirates the win, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 3.5 seconds left, and the Bulls were able to escape with the victory. Ron Anderson Jr. led all Bulls with 14 points, while a balanced scoring attach had six other Bulls score between six and nine points. Theodore led all scorers with 16 points.
There are times where your season can change based on one or two moments, and I think one of those moments happened tonight. After Aaron Cosby's three-pointer with six minutes to go put the Hall up 52-42, you got that sinking feeling that it just wasn't going to be USF's night. But then Anthony Collins hit a jumper, and then Ron finished to make it a two-possession game. After a Herb Pope FT, Anderson Jr. hits both of his free throws to cut the deficit to five. Then the Bulls got a stop and Ron scored again to cut the lead to three. After another stop, JAWANZA! hit a three to tie the game at 53 with 2:30 left.
After a couple of misses, Collins found a streaking Fitzpatrick in transition, and he made the layup after being fouled to give the Bulls the lead. His free throw pushed the lead to 3, and then the game ends like this.
0:22 - Theodore just throws up a 45-foot prayer that bounces off the backboard and somehow lands in the arms of Patrik Auda, who lays it in and cuts the lead to one.
0:21 - JAWANZA! is fouled...and promptly misses the front end of a 1-and-1. Seton Hall decides to not call a timeout, and Theodore found a wide open Pope in the lane, but somehow Fitzpatrick was able to deflect the ball out of bounds with six ticks left. That hustle play by Fitzy probably saved the game for us tonight. Pope would have had no problem finishing that and giving Seton Hall the lead.
0:03 - Theodore is fouled by Collins, and the 86% FT shooter has a chance to win it if he makes the front end...BUT HE MISSED! The ball trickled aimlessly down the baseline and the Bulls were able to grab their 10th victory of the year.
Any time you can match your win total before the end of the season, you feel good about the progress that's made. But to have that happen with at least 14 games to go? It's the type of thing that makes you feel optimistic about the way the program is improving. With the Big East down this season, the opportunity for a nice midtable finish is certainly possible.
#TheQuestFor16 is alive and well.