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College basketball

USF can't block out blunders

Gerrick Morris has 10 blocks, but the Bulls miss 14 free throws and have 17 turnovers.

Published February 22, 2004

HOUSTON - South Florida saw its chances to beat Houston slip away in the final seconds Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Cougars won 53-52, sweeping the Bulls and improving to 3-10 in Conference USA.

After Gerrick Morris' 10th block with 10.25 seconds left, the Bulls used two timeouts to plot a play. Brian Swift got the ball to Bradley Mosley under the basket, but Mosley did not get the attempt off against defender Anwar Ferguson.

"You start getting the feeling like what do we have to do to get the chance to win," USF coach Robert McCullum said. "We got the ball to the person we wanted to."

USF overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to lead 49-43 with 5:37 left. But the Bulls converted just one field goal the rest of the game. The Cougars inched back and took a 53-52 lead on a 3-pointer by Lanny Smith with 1:05 left.

Houston's Andy Ikeakor got a steal and the Cougars worked the clock down. Morris' block tied a record for blocked shots by a Houston opponent. The mark was set by Robert Parish of Centenary in 1973.

After a tentative opening 10 minutes, Smith, Parker Pinkalla and Andre Owens hit 3-pointers during a 16-3 Cougar run that left the Bulls trailing 32-20 with 1:32 remaining in the half.

Morris blocked seven shots in the first half. The Bulls never took advantage, giving Houston a pair of baskets on second shots and losing four turnovers.

USF came out strong in the second half, with a 20-9 run in the first 12 minutes. Terrence Leather, who led the Bulls with 22 points, spearheaded the run.

"I thought we made a good comeback after being down 12 points in the first half," McCullum said. "In the first 15 minutes of the second half, I thought we played as well defensively as we have all year."

Turnovers and missed free throws were problems. USF shot 33 free throws to 14 for Houston, but missed 14. The Bulls lost 17 turnovers to four the Cougars.

"When you are on the road, it is rare to get 19 more free throws than your opponent," McCullum said. "When you miss that many and make many more turnovers, it is not difficult to see why we lost."

[Last modified February 22, 2004, 01:45:26]

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