The USF Bulls men’s basketball team held on to a win over the late charging Stetson Hatters, 75-72 on Wednesday night.  The Bull had completely dominated the first half, leading by as much as 14 points midway through the period, 23-9.  Stetson would recover some ground by the halftime break but still trailed USF, 41-30.  Things would heat up in the second half.  

The Bulls maintained a comfortable lead until the 16 minute mark, when Luke Doyle stole the ball from Tulio Da Silva and passed the ball down court to Divine Myles, who made an easy fast-break layup to get the Hatters within five, 45-40.  Less than 30 seconds later, Doyle sunk a three-point shot to narrow the deficit to just two.  USF’s Payton Banks answered with a three of his own, giving the Bulls back their five point advantage with 14:52 remaining in the game. 

USF would maintain at least a 3 point lead until 9:18 remained.  USF’s Justin Brown was called for a foul on Doyle.  Doyle made both of his free throws to bring Stetson to within one, the closest the teams had been since the start of the game, 58-57.

The Bulls pulled away, again, building a six point lead with 5:23 on the game clock.  A layup by Myles narrowed the lead to four.  Then, Da Silva stepped out of bounds under the rim, giving the ball back to Stetson.  Myles sank a three to get the USF lead down to one with 4:28 left in the game.  Da Silva responded with a dunk on the next USF possession, to which Doyle answered with another three-pointer to tie the game at 70 with just under four minutes to go.  The tie was the closest thing to a lead that the Hatters had since the opening minutes of the game. 

After tying the game, Stetson attempted and missed three straight three-point attempts.  The final missed shot was rebounded by Banks giving USF the ball with 42 seconds remaining in the game.  They let the clock run down 24 seconds before putting their offense into motion.  A late shot by Banks was called a shot clock violation against the Bulls with 12.7 seconds to go.  Stetson’s B.J. Glasford drove the lane and missed a jump shot, which was rebounded by Da Silva with 1.4 seconds left in the game.  Da Silva was fouled and made the first of his two shots, pushing the USF lead to three, 75-72.  Stetson got the ball back with 1.1 seconds, enough time for a miracle from half court.  It didn’t fall their way and USF notched their second win of the season.

USF lead all but one minute of the game, but nearly lost it at the end.  Four players scored in double digits, with Stephan Jiggets and Payton Banks scoring 18 apiece.  Terrance Samuel and Da Silva scored 15 and 11 points, respectively.  Despite a size advantage and outrebounding Stetson, 34-22, the Bulls were outscored 32-22 in the paint.  They made 52% of their field goals and shot 45% from behind the arc, which is a big improvement from their last game, where they made just 35% from the field and 25% of three-pointers. 

For the Hatters, Myles had a very good game, scoring 20 points and going three-for-three at the line.  Doyle was second on the team in scoring, with 17 points.  Fouls were a big problem for Stetson, who sent the Bulls to the free throw line 21 times, but only got five shots of their own.  They out-fouled USF, 20-13 and had two players with four fouls apiece.  Also contributing to their loss was the wasted attempts at the three-point line, where they were just 9-33 for 27%, with most of the rebounds going the other way.

The win gets USF to 2-1 on the season and extends their series lead with Stetson to 17-7, all-time.  They will be on the road at Indiana in their next matchup on Sunday, November 19th.  Also 2-1, Stetson will host SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday, November 18th.

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