Fueled by 17 points from redshirt junior Laquincy Rideau and two clutch free throws at the regulation buzzer by Justin Brown, the USF men’s basketball team knocked off Austin Peay 74-70 in overtime on Monday night at the Yuengling Center to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2014.
“This is a really good win for us,” head coach Brian Gregory said. “To grind out the win, to make the mistakes that we made in critical times...guys will learn and will build that connection.”
Following an early 7-0 run, the Governors (1-2) jumped out to a 12-5 lead at the first media timeout as the Bulls went nearly six minutes without a field goal midway through the first half.
With 56 seconds remaining, redshirt senior guard T.J. Lang drained a three to tie the game 29-29 entering the halftime break.
Lang finished with 15 points, dropping in 3-of-6 from distance, including a big three-ball to open up the second half, and hauled in four rebounds.
Lang just broke a poor dudes ankle and then drained a three in his face.....— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) November 13, 2018
That's one way to start the second half.
After finishing off a highlight reel alley-oop slam in the first half, and picking up his THIRD technical foul of the season for the celebration, sophomore forward Mayan Kiir forced a key turnover and turned it into a layup for a 36-29 USF lead.
Kiir, an LSU transfer, finished with 11 points and grabbed six key rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I rather have to cool a guy down, then heat him up,” Gregory said of Kiir. “But he’s learning... he does play hard and plays with great energy. You just have to keep coaching him and have some patience.”
The Bulls grabbed a double digit lead for the first time with 13:12 remaining and led by as much as 11 with a little over 11 minutes left.
With under three minutes to play, senior seven-footer Nikola Scekic was called for a foul on a Governors layup attempt and picked up a technical that allowed Austin Peay to tie the contest at 55-55.
Trailing 63-61, Brown drove to the basket and was fouled with 0.4 seconds on the clock. With ice running through his veins, the sophomore guard dropped in both free throws to send the game to overtime.
Despite missing key free throws throughout the game (21-for-41) and later on in the overtime period, USF outscored Austin Peay 11-7 and prevailed with a 74-70 victory.
“We’re gonna have a lot of these games: knockdown, drag-out, WWE,” Gregory added. “We have to try to figure out how to win it. And we did tonight.”
The Bulls finished with a 38-16 advantage in points in the paint and shot 50% (13-for-26) from the field in the second half after finishing 8-for-28 in the first.
USF will head to Montego Bay on Wednesday for two games in the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic. The Bulls will face Ohio on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and Georgetown on Sunday at noon.