By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA, JAN. 3, 2018 – In control for nearly 27 minutes, USF couldn’t hold onto a late lead in a 67-65 loss to East Carolina at the Sun Dome on Wednesday night.
After leading by as many as eight after the break, USF (7-9, 0-3) took a one-point advantage near the two-minute mark, when ECU grabbed the momentum with a three-pointer by B.J. Tyson.
Down by four, Stephan Jiggetts knocked down a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left and USF had three more chances to at least tie it up after an ECU turnover on an in-bound attempt. On the final sequence, Terrence Samuelcouldn’t connect a three-pointer with three seconds remaining and Isaiah Manderson narrowly missed on a tip-in attempt before the buzzer.
Jiggetts (Forestville, Md.) finished with a game-high 18 points and matched his career high with four three-pointers to go along with five rebounds and five assists.
Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y.) tied his season high with 15 points and did all his scoring after the break, going 5-for-9 from the field with a pair of three-pointers.
Despite the loss, USF shot 46 percent overall and nearly 53 percent from beyond the arc (9-for-17) while outrebounding ECU, 32-26. The freshman duo of Justin Brown and David Collins combined for 15 points, while Manderson finished with eight points in his first-career start for the Bulls.
ECU (7-7, 1-2) completed the comeback by shooting 57 percent from the field in the second half and went 11-for-13 from the free throw line after the break. Four Pirates scored in double figures with Kentrell Barkley posting a team-high 16 points.
USF had the hot hand early, sinking 52 percent of its shots from the field on the way to a 35-29 halftime lead. Jiggetts was off to a fast start with 11 points after making three of the Bulls’ six three-pointers in the opening half.
Head coach Brian Gregory‘s thoughts on how the game transpired:
“Number-wise offensively, other than the turnovers, if we shoot 46 percent, 53 from the three, 83 from the line and outrebound a team, we’re going to be in good shape. Unfortunately, our defense was not at the level it needed to be at in this league when you’re playing high-quality players. Tyson is going to end up as maybe the all-time leading scorer in our league. We’ve got to do a better job on him.”
Gregory on keeping a positive approach with young players contributing and Banks getting healthier:
“I’m disappointed but obviously not discouraged. You’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ve had some good basketball from some guys. I think the freshmen are playing well. It’s good to get Payton out there, obviously very limited, but that will bode well down the road for us.”
57.1 – ECU’s shooting percentage from the field in the second half.
30 – ECU did most of its damage inside the paint, where it scored 30 points.
14 – The Pirates scored 13 points off 14 USF turnovers.
3:26 – USF went without a field goal for the final 3:26 of the second half, going 0-for-6 from the field down the stretch.
- Still battling an illness, Payton Banks played 10 minutes after missing the past two games. Banks leads the Bulls in scoring with 13.7 points per game. “We need to get Payton back healthy, so we can utilize some things offensively,” Gregory said.
- Terrence Samuel matched his season high of 15 points, which he originally set against Stetson on Nov. 15.
- Stephan Jiggetts scored 12 of his game-high 18 points from long range, matching his career high with four three-pointers. Jiggetts has made four three-pointers in three different games this season.
- Freshman Justin Brown has made at least one three-pointer in nine consecutive games after sinking two against ECU.
- USF doesn’t have to wait long for its revenge attempt against ECU. The two teams meet back up in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN3).
USF travels to Kansas to take on Wichita State on Sunday at 4 p.m. (TV: CBS Sports Network).
The Bulls’ next home game is Saturday, Jan. 13 against Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Reserve your seats at USFBullsTix.com.