Bulls lose 69-64 at FIU in Double Over Time

The University of South Florida men's basketball team (2-1) was unable to take advantage of a plethora of opportunities at victory Tuesday night at Florida International (2-2), eventually falling 69-64 in double overtime.

The contest featured buzzer-beating shots by both squads, but in the end it was turnovers and missed chances at the free throw line that doomed the team's shot to escape with a win.

USF connected on just 10-of-20 shots from the foul line, including critical misses down the stretch, and turned the ball over 28 times in the defeat. Senior James Holmes led all scorers with 23 points and junior Melvin Buckley chipped in 17 of his own. Classmate Chris Capko chipped in a personal-best 10 points and finished with nine assists in 49 minutes of action.

The Bulls led 25-24 at the half and extended that advantage to double figures with 10 minutes remaining in regulation. A 14-4 run by the Golden Panthers, however, set the score at 48-47 in favor of USF with 5:28 on the clock. A pair of charity tosses by Holmes moved the Bulls ahead by five points, but three costly misses down the stretch would come back to play a role in the outcome.

Leading 53-51 with 18 seconds left, Holmes was fouled and converted on his first free throw, but could not knock down the second. FIU grabbed the rebound and quickly called timeout to set up a final play. Elvis Lora came open on the left wing following the stoppage and drained a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to tie the game. It was his first basket of the night.

Things got more interesting for the Bulls in the overtime, as both center Solomon Jones and junior McHugh Mattis fouled out. Capko played the role of hero, however, knocking down a running jumper in the lane with 1.4 seconds left to knot the score at 60-60. FIU's full-court pass was knocked away and the game was headed to double overtime.

With both Jones and Mattis on the bench, head coach Robert McCullum's job was made all the more difficult when junior Melvyn Richardson fouled out in the second extra session. Sophomore guard Collin Dennis, who hadn't played since the season opener against Alcorn State because of injury and hadn't seen action all night, jumped off the bench to contribute. He was joined by walk on Jonathan Willis, who joined the team three weeks ago.

Despite the fact Buckley was forced to play center in the final overtime, USF still had an opportunity to win the game. The score was 65-64 in favor of FIU with just over a minute left. However, an offensive rebound by the Golden Panthers led to a bucket and Dennis' 3-point attempt to force another period fell short.

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