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Men’s Basketball Stunned by George Washington, 68-67

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Despite leading most of the game and outshooting the Colonials, USF can’t hold on for the win and drop to 4-3.

NCAA Basketball: South Florida at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman center Collin Smith banked in a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to lift the George Washington Colonials to a 68-67 win over the USF Bulls Saturday afternoon.

The Bulls, playing just 36 hours after a win at Troy, held on to a slim lead for most of the second half and led by two with 25.7 seconds to play after Luis Santos missed two free throws. Appearing to make camp near the sideline to settle down for a Christmas respite, GW readied watercraft to cross the icy Delaware River. Like a band of unsuspecting Hessian mercenaries, USF drew up a solid defensive play and bunked down for the evening.

Despite being in foul trouble, the Bulls aggressively defended the basket for 20 seconds, and the Colonials were unable to break through their fortifications. This forced Smith, who led all scorers with 22 points, to take a shot from the top of the key with five seconds remaining. The rest is history.

After the fatal shot, the scoreboard showed 68-67 in George Washington’s favor, with 3.5 seconds left. Bo Zeigler inbounded to Jahmal McMurray, playing his first game of the year following a six-game suspension. But McMurray lost control of the ball and couldn’t return fire before the game’s end.

The Bulls once again started strong. Ruben Guerrero came out with two layups, a rebound and a block in the first few minutes. Like a well-disciplined regiment, USF didn’t miss a shot in the first 5:56, going 6-for-6 on a 15-1 run to build a double-digit lead.

George Washington battled back, cutting into USF’s lead with a 9-2 run. Forward Luis Santos stopped the bleeding with a hook shot. A few minutes later, the Colonials got the lead down to four, but back-to-back threes from McMurray and Troy Holston, as well as a Guerrero layup, extended the lead to twelve.

True to their style, however, the Bulls’ lead had eroded to three points by halftime, after Jair Bolden’s buzzer-beating 27-foot three-pointer.

Less than two minutes into the second half, USF had lost the lead. McMurray tied it up a couple of minutes later with some fancy ball handling and a wide-open 15-footer, and Geno Thorpe got it back by burying a three-pointer with 12:00 left.

George Washington’s Tyler Cavanaugh tied the game at 50 with 10:00 remaining, but a quick floater from Geno Thorpe got the Bulls’ lead back. McMurray then hit a three to extend it to five, and added a floater to make it a seven-point advantage.

All told, USF played a seriously good game against last season’s NIT champions. Guerrero notched his second double-double of the year, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. McMurray led the team in scoring with 16, and Holston added 14 points.

The Bulls shot 54% from the floor, including seven three-pointers. George Washington shot just 38%, but took 27 free throws to USF’s four.

Following exam week, USF returns home to face Bethune-Cookman December 12, where they will try again to move the #QuestForTen game board.