Bulls Hustle Past Pirates

After being stomped in their conference opener at SMU earlier in the week, USF bounced back with a much needed victory over East Carolina.

In their first home contest of the new year, the young USF Bulls (7-8, 1-1) were able to hustle and rally late to notch their first conference victory of the season, downing East Carolina (7-8, 0-2) by a score of 58-50. The win was much needed for the Bulls, especially coming off a 24 point beating at SMU on Wednesday afternoon.

The near identical records for both schools manifested itself in Saturday night’s contest as both squads were evenly matched throughout the majority of the game. The Bulls jumped out to an early five point lead in the first half, whereas the Pirates were able to quickly counter and respond with their own lead that would carry into the second half. Adjusting to ECU’s staunchy 2-3 zone that stifled the Bulls early on in the second period, Coach Antigua’s guys responded with a hustling, energy fueled 12-0 run over the course of five minutes that effectively put the game away.

USF was led throughout the contest by the all-around effort of freshman Center Ruben Guerrero. The Marbella, Spain native has started to find his stride in the starting lineup since returning from an early season injury and has provided a much needed large, versatile presence for the Bulls inside. Saturday night featured a full display of his continuing progression as he racked up 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, one block, and 1 steal in the winning effort. However, it was Bo Zeigler’s energy off the bench late that lifted the Bulls past ECU. As has been the case all season long, the redshirt freshman provided the spark in the latter portion of the contest, scoring seven straight USF points with around four minutes remaining to lift the Bulls into the win column. “We have to play energetic,” Zeigler said after the contest, “it’s how we’re going to have to play from here on out.”

The Bulls will have their work cut out for them in their next contest, as they will host the dynamic Ryan Boatright and the defending national champion Uconn Huskies on Tuesday night.

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