It was a tale of two halves for USF on Saturday night when the team faced Temple in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Bulls missed 22 consecutive baskets and shot a dismal 11 percent from the field in the first half. USF withstood a poor offensive effort and a 13-0 Temple run in that half and did limit turnovers (only four) although their shooting percentage was terrible.
USF went on a 7-0 run to close out the half and trailed the Owls 19-15 at halftime. USF’s staunch defensive game in the first half allowed them to only trail by four. If the Bulls stifling defense was non existent in that half it would have been much more difficult to get back into the game.The Bulls had seven forced turnovers in the first half and limited Temple to only 13 field goals. In short, USF got lucky they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot with the poor offensive effort that was showcased.
However, the Bulls came alive and shot 9-for-11 to open up second half and with momentum on their side, USF went on an explosive 30-6 run. The run was also fueled by crucial back-to-back 3-pointers by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick.
The fifth seeded Owls made an attempt to cut the Bulls’ 14 point lead, but the Bulls saw clutch 3-pointers from Victor Rudd Jr. and had nine straight free throws to win the second NCAA tournament game in program history, in three days nonetheless, to edge Temple 58-44 in a thriller.
Rudd had 17 points to close out his fourth straight game in double figures. Anthony Collins also added 17 points for USF, including five crucial assists in the second half to spark USF’s run. Collins and Rudd combined for 13 of the the teams final points.
When the Bulls click on both sides of the ball, they have a chance to beat anyone on any given night. That’s the key for USF in this tournament. If multiple players get to double figures and the Bulls continue to hone in on the defense they have been relying on all season, the sky is the limit.
The Bulls are only the second play-in team to make the field of 32. The next test for USF will be when they face thirteenth seeded Ohio on Sunday at 7:45 p.m.