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Paradise lost: USF drops second straight in Hawaii
By STEPHEN TSAI
Published December 23, 2005
HONOLULU - Another humid day in paradise, another meltdown in the Rainbow Classic.
With a 16-hour break after Wednesday night's opening-round loss to Iowa State, South Florida incurred the same problems - missed opportunities on offense and breakdowns on defense - in Thursday's 61-56 loss to Oregon State.
The Bulls (5-5) meet Loyala Marymount today for seventh place in the eight-team tourney.
"It was the same story," said point guard Chris Capko, one of three Bulls to play 40 minutes. The Bulls used only six players because of injuries.
"We had chances to make plays at the end," Capko added, "and we just didn't make them."
The Bulls, who surrendered eight 3-pointers, whittled a 52-44 deficit to 53-51 on James Holmes' 3 with 5:25 to play.
But the Bulls failed to score on their next four possessions. The Beavers extended their lead to 55-51 after Solomon Jones was called for goal-tending Marcel Jones' putback with 2:50 to play. The basket ended a drought in which the Beavers (5-4) missed nine consecutive shots and went 9:22 without a field goal.
"It was a pretty close call," Solomon Jones said. "I thought it was a good block. But that's the way things have been going for us."
The Bulls closed to 57-56 on Holmes' 3-pointer with 1:37 left.
But OSU guard Chris Stephens juked past Capko, drove the lane and scored on a layup, increasing the Beavers' lead to 59-56 with 47.8 seconds remaining.
"The shot clock was running down, I had the ball in my hands and I was looking into getting into the lane," Stephens said. "I figured if I could find somebody open, I would pass to the outside. If I had the shot, I was going to take it. I had the shot."
When Holmes slipped and lost possession in front of the USF bench with 23.2 seconds to play, the suspense was over.
"I think I was pushed," said Holmes, who finished with 18 points. "There was a lot of physical play, which you like. You can't get too mad at that."
After the game, USF coach Robert McCullum, staring at the final stats, said: "We couldn't get over the hump. We missed shots. We turned it over. We had a breakdown in communication. ... I'm really proud of the effort. But we have to find a way to win the games that could go either way."
For the Bulls, the game unraveled in several phases. Against an intense man-to-man, half-court defense, the Bulls had difficulty finding McHugh Mattis in the low post. Mattis, who set a school record with 10-for-10 shooting against Iowa State, made 2 of 6 shots Thursday.