Senior forward Victor Rudd scored a game-high 22 points, but No. 10 seeded USF fell to No. 7 Rutgers 72-68 Wednesday in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Championships.
The Los Angeles native ends his career, No. 10 in all-time scoring at USF as he passed Terrence Leather with 1,216 points. Rudd went 6-of-12 from the field and made 10-of-16 free throw attempts while playing all, but two minutes for the Bulls who ended their season with a record of 12-20.
“It was a tough loss,” said head coach Stan Heath. “The game was a microcosm of similar games over the last, maybe eight games that we have played. We have been right there, one possession, one strong 3-point shot, a rebound, just a crucial play. Seems like we have been coming up short when it comes to making some of those plays.”
USF, which trailed by as many as 12 points with 11:49 to play, but could not overcome a below a 20-of-35 (57.1 percent) performance at the free throw line. The Bulls also missed all of their season-low four 3-point attempts. The free throw line is where Rutgers (12-20) excelled making 24-of-30 for 80 percent.
USF picked up its defensive effort after falling behind 56-44 midway through the second half. A Rutgers field goal drought of over six minutes allowed the Bulls to creep back into the game. A John Egbunu dunk, one of his four in the game, capped off a 10-1 run to get within one point, 59-58 with 6:28 to play. However, the Scarlet Knights scored the next five points as the Bulls never held a lead in the second half.
“I’m really proud of my guys. It would’ve been easy to pack it in and give up, and we never did,” said Heath.
Rutgers was led in scoring by Kadeem Jack with 18 points followed by Myles Mack with 16, Wally Judge with 15 to go with 10 rebounds and J.J. Moore with 13 points. The Scarlet Knights advanced to play No. 2 seed Louisville Thursday at 3 p.m.
Freshman forward Chris Perry (Bartow) finished 5-of-9 from the field for 12 points and five rebounds. Memphis native Martino Brock joined Perry and Rudd in double figures with 10, the majority of their points came down low as USF outscored Rutgers in points in the paint 44-28.
Freshman Josh Heath (Tampa) finished with a career-best eight points to go with seven assists and two of USF’s 12 turnovers.
SOURCE: USF Athletics