Bulls Sweep Away The Friars

Riding a two game losing streak where both losses were last second, one possession games, the Friars returned home to play in front of alumni, students, parents, and families at PC's annual Homecoming Weekend. The Friars fought hard against the USF Bulls but ultimately came up short, losing their third game in a row, 55-48.

The Friars were looking for revenge, having already dropped the front-end of the home and home meeting with the Bulls earlier this season, and started off trading blows with the Bulls, but the shots had a hard time dropping early. The Friars played good defense to keep it close when their shots wouldn't fall, trading leads and ties with South Florida, gaining as much as a 5 point lead with 4:23 left in the first half, leading 19-14.

Despite their lead, South Florida hit crucial threes and took a 3 point lead, 24-21, at the half. Both teams struggled shooting, South Florida converting only 36% in the half and the Friars an abysmal 25%. In a play that was indicative of what was to come, PC regained possession with four seconds left, and Vincent Council streaked the length of the court with the ball, only to miss an uncontested lay-up at the buzzer.

The second half started and the Friars offensive woes continued. South Florida tried to build on a lead but the defensive-minded Friars kept the game from getting out of control, keeping the game within 10. The Friars caught the lead halfway into the second half, 33-32, with 10:22 left in the game. The Bulls would get close, even tying the game 37-37, but the Friars held a 5 point lead 46-41 with 4:03 to go.

Something was wrong with the Friars offense, and it was clear as day – the Friars hadn't scored a field goal since the 6:22 mark, with all their points coming off of free throws. Fans were uncertain, and the Bulls caught up and eclipsed the Friars 47-46 with 1:40 left. Stan Heath inserted Shaun Noriega, a little-used shooter who hadn't played in this game up until this point, and Noriega buried two consecutive threes to give USF the lead. In all, Noriega would play one minute and score 6 crucial points.

Stomachs churned at reminders of the past two losses, and the Friars were able to get a basket with 1:03 left to take their last lead, 48-47. It would be their last scoring opportunity for the game. The Bulls were able to finish by converting their free throws. Ed Cooley got his first technical during this time after a missed call on Bryce Cotton shooting a crucial three, which would've helped recapture a Friar lead. Both free throws on the technical were missed, but it didn't matter. During that stretch, Council missed a wild lay-up attempt and was hammered but no foul was called. That was followed by a made lay-up by Council that was waved off on a Kadeem Batts illegal screen.

South Florida escaped with the win, and the Friars had their spirits dampened, in one of their worst offensive games of the season by only shooting 30% from the field for the game and an awful 8% from 3, going only 1-12.

"This script is getting really, really old," Cooley opened in his post-game presser. "The basketball gods are not on our side right now… just kind of speechless. I feel for my players… just one of those days, it's not fun seeing those kids suffer that way. We gotta get better and I gotta do a better job."

"Ya gotta make a layup," Cooley continued, citing the 12 missed layups in the first half alone as a source for the loss. "Unless we can come off the bench and make some shots ourselves in a suit you gotta make a layup." Cooley did note that he was pleased with the defense the team put up, and that sometimes tremendous plays get made, noting two highly contest shots that the Bulls made as keys to their win. "We're putting kids in the position to win, they gotta deliver the plays."

Cooley was then asked about his technical. "Let me tell you why I got that technical foul. I want to fight for our players, and if there's something I need to fight for then they better get used to calling technical fouls, cause I think my players deserve better than that and I'll fight for them."

The fights get no easier during the homestretch of the season. The Friars have five games left – three road and two home – fort a chance of pulling some salvation out of the season. Their next game comes on the road against a Cincinnati team playing very well, followed by a home game against a familiar Georgetown team whose season has gotten better as the games have gone along.

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