Senior forward McHugh Mattis chipped in 10 points, three rebounds and three blocks before fouling out with 12:14 left in the second half. The injury depleted Bulls entered the game with just eight scholarship players, which included Amu Saaka. Saaka attempted to play on the injured ankle that limited him to less than a minute at West Virginia, but couldn't give more than four minutes Sunday.
The matchup marked the third already this season for the Bulls against a nationally ranked BIG EAST opponent on the road. USF has also faced No. 14 UConn and No. 10 Pittsburgh.
USF's offensive attack came out firing in the opening minutes of the first half. The Bulls led by as many as five points early before the wheels started to come off. Leading 24-23 with 8:32 left in the opening stanza, Notre Dame would close the half with a 19-2 run and owned a 42-26 advantage at the break.
The Bulls, who were well over 50 percent from the field in the first 10 minutes, finished 37.5 percent (9-of-24) from the floor and nine USF turnovers led to 10 Fighting Irish points. Buckley led the way with eight points, but all of those came early.
USF made its final run in the opening moments of the second half. After falling behind by 19 points, the Bulls closed the gap to 48-38 with some strong work underneath by Gransberry. Trailing by 10 and in possession of the ball, USF turned it over just before the first media timeout. ND responded with a 3-point play and a trey on back-to-back possessions to end the momentum.
The Bulls concluded the game at 41.2 percent from the floor and 52.0 percent from the charity stripe. Gransberry didn't help USF's effort from the line, finishing just 3-of-12 on the afternoon.
The Bulls open a three-game homestand Wednesday night against Rutgers at the Sun Dome. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the 70's Night activities include $1 drinks and a costume competition.
|Final January 21, 2007||1||2||T|
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