TAMPA - The University of South Florida men's basketball team returned to the Sun Dome Wednesday night falling to the Marquette Golden Eagles, 59-58.
The Bulls were led by sophomore Toralyn Fitzpatrick who broke multiple career records against the Golden Eagles. Fitzpatrick scored 16 points topping his previous record of 13, grabbed 16 rebounds, out-doing his previous high of 11, and made six field goals, beating his career high of five.
Marquette (15-9, 6-5) was led by Jae Crowder with 14 points, going 4-of-5 on three pointers for the night.
The Bulls began to separate themselves early in the game, going on a key 4-0 run, allowing them to jump ahead 17-9 midway through the first half. After that two Bulls knocked down pivotal three-pointers, one each from Sean Noriega and Anthony Crater, further extending the lead to 23-14.
The Bulls ended the half strong in the paint with Jawanza Poland, Hugh Robertson, Jarrid Famous, and Fitzpatrick all scoring from the inside. The Bulls went into the locker room at halftime leading 31-24.
Both teams shot 57 percent from the arc in the first half, with both draining 4-of-7 attempts. Meanwhile the Bulls dominated on field -goals, making 13-of-19 for 68 percent, compared to the Golden Eagles 9-of-25 for 36 percent. The Bulls also out-rebounded the Eagles 10-2 on defense and 15-9 overall for the first half.
After the half, USF extended their lead to 16, their largest of the game, which was ignited by a Gilchrist three-pointer. Subsequently, Marquette's back-court press caused several turnovers and a slow but steady comeback. With 5:05 to go in the game the Bulls found themselves tied with the Golden Eagles at 51.
Marquette then gained a one point lead with a three-pointer from Jae Crowder, who was pivotal all night for the Golden Eagles. The Bulls could not regain the lead, and ended up just short as Fitzpatrick went to the free-throw line with 1.8 seconds left to attempt two shots but down by three. Fitzpatrick hit the first and mistakenly the second, leading to the one-point loss.
The Bulls shot 51.1 percent (23-of-45) on field-goals, compared to the Golden Eagles 39.3 percent (22-of-56). The Bulls also shot better at the free-throw line hitting 7-of-13, for 53.8 percent, compared to Marquette's 7-of-19, for 36.8 percent, six of which were missed in the final minute of the game.
Marquette's full court press caused the majority of 19 USF turnovers throughout the game.
USF returns to the Sun Dome for a noon matchup with Notre Dame on Saturday, Feb. 12 before hitting the road to Pittsburgh on Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. for a ESPNU matchup.
- USF's starters were Ron Anderson, Jr., Augustus Gilchrist, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Hugh Robertson and Anthony Crater. The lineup was USF's 12th different of the season.
- Fitzpatrick scored a career-high 16 points, passing his previous high of 13 set at Providence on Feb. 2. He grabbed 13 rebounds for his third career double-double and second this season (10 points and 11 rebounds vs. BYU on Nov. 26). His 12 field goal attempts, six conversions and 35 minutes played were also career highs.
- Anthony Crater posted nine assists, one off his career high and his sixth game this season with at least seven dishes.
- USF led by as many as 16 in the game. It was the Bulls' largest blown lead in a loss this season.
- The Bulls outrebounded Marquette 34-25. USF has outrebounded its opponent in 21 of 25 games this season.
- Augustus Gilchrist scored 11 points for his 16th double-digit scoring effort of the season. He has reached double digits in 11 of the last 13 games.