Bulls Late Rally Falls Short In Raleigh

Antigua's young team dropped a three point nail biter to NC State on Sunday afternoon. But several positives can be taken away from this game moving forward.

USF Men’s Basketball (3-1) suffered their first loss of the regular season on Sunday afternoon, losing an early season nail biter to ACC powerhouse NC State (4-0) 68-65. Facing their first true road test of the season, many speculated how Coach Orlando Antigua’s young team, the second youngest in the entire nation, would handle the tough challenge in PNC Arena. Despite the three point loss, the Bulls’ ability to cut into Wolfpack leads and resiliency until the very end of the contest will certainly serve as a learning tool the team can build on moving forward.

NC State’s victory was charged by the stellar play of two individuals throughout Sunday’s contest. Junior transfer Trevor Lacey led the way for the Pack, notching 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assist in front of his new home crowd. Meanwhile, Sophomore BeeJay Anya delivered another impressive performance defensively. Anya set a school record for most blocks in a single game with 10 on Thursday night and impressed with a similar dominant effort, collecting 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the win.

However, securing the victory was not an easy task for NC State as the Corey Allen Jr. led Bulls lineup consistently kept pace with the Wolfpack and never let the game get out of reach. Allen led the Bulls with 14 points on the afternoon and his aggressive nature in attacking the basket has gone hand in hand with Antigua’s up tempo style of offense so far and was exemplified by the entire team in Raleigh. Whenever NC State went on a run, the young Bulls would find answer and cut the lead right back down. Even when trailing by eleven with 2:57 left in the game, USF still managed to apply pressure defensively, score timely baskets, and capitalize on late NC State missed field goals to bring the game whittle the deficit down to three with two seconds remaining. Scoring the final seven points for the Bulls in a frantic effort, Allen Jr.’s last second half court heave went just off the mark, coming up just short of finalizing a comeback.

Several positives will indeed be taken away from the game despite the outcome. To go into ACC territory, hold an opponent under 40% shooting for the fourth consecutive game, and only commit ten turnovers is really encouraging for a team with only three returning players to the entire roster. The Bulls will look to carry this flurry of positive momentum into their next contest, a November 25th home matchup with Hofstra on ESPN3.

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