Saint Leo opened the game with two layups before USF senior McHugh Mattis put the Bulls on the board for the first time with a dazzling dunk. USF took the advantage five minutes into the game, holding the lead until the 10-minute mark. With one minute left in the half, USF tied the game, knotting the score at 24-24 before heading into the locker rooms.
In the see-saw first half battle, the Bulls converted on 43 percent (10-23) of their shots, while the Lions hit 11-of-30 (36.7 percent).
The battle continued into the second half, with six lead changes in the first 10 minutes. With 9:57 remaining in the game, Buckley hit a trey to put the Bulls ahead for good.
Mattis scored 19 points, hitting 8-of-12 shots and grabbed nine rebounds while blocking three shots and making one assist. Senior guard Chris Capko dished out seven assists, while freshman Solomon Bozeman had four of his own. Bozeman also scored 10 points, hitting all four shots from the line.
Saint Leo senior J.J. Turner and junior Jonathan Banks each scored nine points for the Lions. Turner netted 3-of-5 from behind the arc while Banks was 4-of-19 overall.
Overall, the Bulls made 52.1 percent of their shots (25-48) while the Lions were 22-of-63 for a 34.9 percent shooting performance. The Bulls forced 21 turnovers in the game.
USF opens the regular season at home Monday, Nov. 13, against Buffalo. Tipoff for the contest is at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome.
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