The Bulls lost another Big East game last night, falling 67 to 70 to Rutgers and putting their season record at 9-7 (0-4). USF, which led at the half on a circus shot by Martino Brock, could not make the shots down the stretch, getting several looks down the final minute to either take the lead or send the game to overtime.
Jawanza Poland led the way for USF with 17 points off the bench, making clutch shots to keep the Bulls in the game late in the second half. Anthony Collins, who was quiet from the field in the first half and dealing with foul trouble, scored 11 points and had 8 assists. Zach LeDay turned in a nice performance off the bench, adding 7 points. JaVontae Hawkins, getting the starting, had a career high 10 points and added 5 rebounds in the effort. Victor Rudd had 11 points as well. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick had another bad night, scoring just 7 points, but was just 3 out of 10 shooting, including 1 out of 6 from 3-point range.
It was a game of ups and downs for the Bulls. While the backdoor screens and easy dunks were fun to watch, the Bulls offense was often frustrated by the 2-3 zone defense of the Knights, making it hard to get any easy looks. While the offense struggled, the defense was not sharp again, giving up easy looks the entire night to the Rutgers' shooters. The defense, which was the strength of the team last year just has not been the same for the Bulls in 2013 and continues to fail them late in games. USF was also out-rebounded 28 to 32 in the loss, another trend that continues to haunt this group.
Another factor for the Bulls in this loss was the number of players they played; only seven players saw action. Kore White, Shaun Noriega, and Musa Abdul-Aleem, were all out in this game, giving Heath few options to turn to down the stretch.
It doesn't get any easier for the Bulls as they return home to host Georgtown on Saturday afternoon. The Hoyas are 12-3 (2-2) and will be a huge challenge for Heath and company.