Providence a Touch Too Much for Bulls by 68-63

By on February 3, 2011

Providence, R.I. (RSE) – With a nail gnawing 68-63 conquest on Wednesday evening, the Providence Friars continued to remind the South Florida Bulls that the margin for error in The Big East Conference is measured in inches rather than feet.

Senior Marshon Brooks was the most dynamic player on the floor in posting 24 points for Providence, which was just over his seventh-best-nationally average of 23.3 per game. Sophomore Vincent Council pitched in 12 points of his own to help the Friars offset the Bulls’ Jawanza Poland’s Herculean 20 points, as well as Toarlyn Fitzpatrick’s career high of 13.

The crowd of 3,785 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center was treated to a screening of USF’s adaptation of “Groundhog Day” as the Bulls again showed enough talent to win but fell just shy on the scoreboard. Down 47-49 with 8:22 to go, USF’s Shaun Noriega buried an open 3-pointer which was erased by a foul on Providence’s Ray Hall which sent USF’s Ron Anderson, Jr. to the line for a one-and-one. Anderson promptly missed the front end and Providence went on a run which resulted in the biggest lead of the game for either team – 9 points.

On cue, however, the Bulls came clawing back and – on consecutive 3-point shots by Fitzpatrick and Augustus Gilchrist – USF tied the score at 58 with 2:49 to play. Brooks responded for Providence with 5 quick points on a contested 3-pointer and breakaway dunk; and the Friars sent the Bulls home to heal yet another gash to their ego.

There were several positive signs of things to come for the Bulls. Guard Anthony Crater joined Poland in asserting his athleticism, as both guards drove the lane effectively and distributed the ball for easy looks at the hoop. Though they continued to be plagued by unforced turnovers and inconsistence in finishing around the basket, the Bulls continued to dominate the boards and shoot well from the foul line. In the absence of towering 6’11 senior Jarrid Famous (back in Tampa nursing a sore back), Fitzpatrick had his best game of the year while logging full-time minutes.

The first half, in particular, was a testament to the parity in talent between the two squads. Providence scrapped their man-to-man defense midway through the first half in favor of a 3-2 zone, which resulted in an 11-0 run for the Friars. The Bulls answered by clearing out for Poland to successfully pull up for three and also drive the lane on several occasions in acrobatic style. The half ended in a stalemate at 30-29 in favor of USF.

In prototypical fashion, the Bulls seemed to run out of steam late in the game and fall shy on will.

USF returns to Tampa to face 17th ranked Syracuse at The St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday at 2 PM. The Orange bounced back from a four game losing streak by winning at Connecticut on Wednesday night.

Of additional note:  Rocket Sports & Entertainment will be covering the game with a live remote from across the street at The Luxury Box Restaurant at 10 AM to be broadcast on ESPN 1040. Those carrying an RSEN Club Card will be offered a courtesy beverage for coming out to support the Bulls as they continue their foray into the basketball beast which is The Big East.

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