The USF Bulls battled the Appalachian State Mountaineers for the first time in 23 years tonight, and fell 84-61.
This is USF’s second loss in 48 hours, following a heartbreaking* overtime loss at Elon on Thursday night. And Appalachian State hadn’t played since Nov 28, which probably explains why they held control of the game, YEAH I’M BIASED.
*Nothing about this team can actually break a USF men’s basketball fan’s hardened heart.
Forward Payton Banks opened scoring with a three on the Bulls’ first possession and guard Stephan Jiggetts drained a pair of jumpers. Seemed promising until the Mountaineers went on an 11-2 run and took control for the rest of the half (and game). Yikes.
Something nice: Walk ons Henry Beard and Yito Alvarado got some playing time. You know we love our walk ons (we miss you, Jake Bodway).
Something not so nice: Both walk ons had no first half stats. And speaking of bad stats, at this point forward Tulio Da Silva uncharacteristically played just two minutes for zero points and two fouls. This genuinely makes me sad.
USF quickly went five (5!) minutes without scoring on 0-for-6 shooting. Jiggetts finally converted a three-point play to end the drought. Thanks, Jiggs. He and Banks held the team on their backs for the rest of the half with 10 and 13 points, while no one else had more than than four points in the half. Forward Malik Martin had six rebounds.
Meanwhile, Appalachian State guard Justin Forrest was a PROBLEM, leading all scorers with 17 points. And guard Ronshad Shabazz added 13 of his own. Ugh.
The Bulls ended the half on a 7-0 run and a late layup from forward Isaiah Manderson, but still trailed 44-33 heading into the locker room.
Mountaineer forward Isaac Johnson opened the second half with a dunk. Not what we wanted to see. Guard Terrence Samuel responded with a layup before Johnson knocked down a three and had a layup of his own. This boy put up 7 points in the first two minutes of the second half … his SEASON AVERAGE. Why though?
With 14:46 to play the Mountaineers racked up a 16-point lead, their largest of the game at this point. Jiggetts DRAMATICALLY drew the foul and I wish it were on quick video for you guys to see. The radio guys compared it to that of a European soccer match, which I would know nothing about.
Manderson grabbed a layup, and racked up double digits in scoring for the first time of his USF career, which is probably the real story here. At this point he had as many points as Jiggetts (10). And for someone who was previously in the doghouse, his performance tonight could lead to the assumption that he’ll be a positive impact for the Bulls the rest of the season.
On that note, I have to say I do like Manderson coming in for center Nikola Scekic. Zay was out there proving he’s #BigForSomething with five rebounds and a career-high 14 points on the night. Martin’s rebounding (11) is also something we can appreciate.
Both teams went scoreless for a couple minutes for a little up and down battle. At least the Mountaineers weren’t scoring either, right? #positivevibesonly. Johnson and Martin ended the slight droughts.
With two minutes left, Appalachian State worked their way up to a 23-point lead as USF gave up their most points of the year. Sigh.
USF will have a week off for finals before returning to the Sun Dome on December 11 versus FIU. Hopefully some time off will do them some good, because after this road trip to North Carolina the Bulls are not in a great place. See you on the 11th though!