South Florida rolls on both sides of the ball to its highest win margin since 1984.
By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 29, 2002
TAMPA -- Wrap it up, put a bow on top and present it to your favorite South Florida fan.
USF's performance Saturday is gift-worthy -- and worth preserving. The Bulls were almost flawless in dismantling Long Island University 92-52 in the opening game of the USF Holiday Classic before 3,529 at the Sun Dome.
The victory margin is the largest for USF (6-3) since 1984, fourth-largest ever and not the byproduct of a cupcake opponent. LIU (3-5) had won three straight before getting steamrolled by the Bulls.
"I don't know what to say," said center Will McDonald, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes. "We weren't expecting it to be that easy. We were expecting a game."
For 15 minutes, it was. An 11-2 LIU run closed it to 34-26 with less than four minutes until halftime.
The Bulls blistered the Blackbirds the rest of the way, closing the half with an 11-2 run and out-scoring LIU 47-22 after halftime.
"They just overwhelmed us. This is the best team we've played all year," said coach Jim Ferry, whose team lost 90-86 at Virginia in its opener. "They were so overwhelming, we just couldn't sustain it. It was run after run after run."
The 6-foot-11 McDonald, taking advantage of an acute size advantage, paced the Bulls in points and rebounds, and freshman Danny Oglesby made his first significant impact. Oglesby, a 6-1 guard, scored 16 in 24 minutes, making 4 of 7 3-pointers. Oglesby had played in six of USF's first eight and scored a combined 10 points in 37 minutes.
Oglesby, the leading scorer in Connecticut prep history with 3,049 points, had good timing: Several New England media outlets were at the Sun Dome for the UConn-USF women's game Saturday night.
"I don't know if the Connecticut beat writers made him feel at home," said coach Seth Greenberg, who has 99 wins at USF, "but you don't score 3,000 points without being able to make shots."
Greenberg's changing defenses, from man-to-man to 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones with a sprinkling of fullcourt pressure, left the Blackbirds baffled. Jimmy Baxter had five steals for USF, and LIU made 18 of 62 (29 percent) field goals.
The Blackbirds' leading scorers, seniors Antawn Dobie (18.3 ppg) and JaJa Bey (16.9 ppg), were a combined 4-of-27. No LIU player scored in double figures.
"They take up so much space. There was nowhere for us to go," Ferry said. "When they started blocking 3-pointers, we knew we were in trouble."
The Bulls held a 54-35 rebounding advantage, and crisp ball movement helped the Bulls shoot 50 percent (37-of-74) and tally a season-high 26 assists. Five Bulls had four or more assists.
"I think the story of the game was our unselfishness," Greenberg said.
Terrence Leather had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for USF, and Marlyn Bryant had 12 points, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Baxter chipped in 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Bulls play East Tennessee State (5-4), a 71-61 winner over Belmont, in the title game at 3:30 today. LIU and Belmont play at 1.
ETSU is led by two area products, leading scorer Tiras Wade of Tampa Bay Tech and top reserve James Anthony of Armwood.