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NCAAs keep slipping away

USF rallies but falls 83-78 to UAB in two OTs, leaving the Bulls with little shot at the NCAA Tournament.

©Associated Press

February 24, 2002

USF rallies but falls 83-78 to UAB in two OTs, leaving the Bulls with little shot at the NCAA Tournament.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Bulls rallied, fought hard and pushed their opponent to double overtime on the road.

The result, however, was the same: another crucial Conference USA loss, another step further from postseason consideration.

Myron Ransom scored eight of his 12 points in the second overtime, when Alabama-Birmingham finally put away stubborn South Florida and avenged an earlier loss 83-78 Saturday afternoon.

Eric Bush scored a career-high 18 and P.J. Arnold 16 to lead five players in double figures for UAB (12-15, 5-9 C-USA). Eric Batchelor had 15 points and Will Campbell 14.

B.B. Waldon scored 16 and Altron Jackson 12 for South Florida (17-10, 7-7), whose NCAA Tournament hopes are fading quickly with two regular-season games left. Unless the Bulls win the C-USA tournament, which runs March 6-9, their best chance at the postseason is with an NIT bid.

South Florida, which beat the Blazers 81-65 on Feb. 5, took a 75-73 lead in the second overtime on a basket by Jackson. But Ransom hit two baskets and four free throws to help UAB to take control.

Two baskets by Will McDonald gave South Florida a 73-69 lead in the first overtime. But UAB tied it on two free throws and a jumper by Arnold. A jumper from the deep right corner by Arnold fell short at the buzzer, sending the game into the second overtime.

Coming off Wednesday's 71-59 loss to Memphis, which ended its chance at a National Division title and a first-round bye in the conference tournament, USF badly needed a road win to keep alive its shot at the NCAAs. An impressive second-half comeback almost did the trick.

UAB led for most of the second half, building a 61-48 lead with 4:55 left. But the Bulls used a fullcourt press and clutch shooting by Brian Swift and Marlyn Bryant to close the gap. Swift hit two 3-pointers and Bryant added a 3-pointer and a layup to spark a 19-6 run.

The Bulls tied it at 67 on a jump shot by Jimmy Baxter with 1:19 left. Two free throws by Bryant gave South Florida a 69-67 lead with 1:07 left, but a basket inside by Campbell tied it. Bush had a shot at the buzzer for UAB, but it missed, sending the game into overtime.

Greg Brittian scored 11 and Bryant 10 for South Florida. Conference assists leader Reggie Kohn, who has played for two months with a lower-leg stress fracture, was held to six points and two assists in 26 minutes.

Waldon had four rebounds and needs 19 in his final two games to pass Hakim Shahid (893) and become USF's all-time leader. Jackson needs 33 points to pass Radenko Dobras (1,935) for second in school history.

The game took almost three hours to play. The teams combined for 56 fouls and 70 free throws.

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