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USF Men’s Basketball Fights Past Stetson 75-71

They don’t have to be pretty.

NCAA Basketball: Southern Methodist at South Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Despite shaky free-throw shooting down the stretch (again), five Bulls reached double figures as the USF men’s basketball team pushed past one-win Stetson 75-71 at the Yuengling Center on Wednesday night to improve to 5-2 for the first time since 2014.

“Give our guys credit for doing just enough of what you need to do to get a win,” head coach Brian Gregory said. “We’re going to be in a lot of close games...we’re just learning how to play together. Today we made enough plays to get it done.”

In a mostly back-and-forth first half, the Bulls grabbed a 40-34 halftime lead on the heels of back-to-back three pointers from redshirt freshman Alexis Yetna and redshirt junior Laquincy Rideau.

Yetna recorded another double-double, finishing with a career-high 18 points, hauling in 10 rebounds and dishing off two assists. The Paris, France native leads the American Athletic Conference with 9.2 boards per game.

“It felt good, I still think I can play better...make my free throws,” Yetna said after finishing 5-for-10 from the charity stripe. “My teammates always pass me the ball and I’m trying to finish.”

As a team, the Bulls shot 64% (21-for-33) from the free-throw line, missing crucial chances to seal the game away late.

Playing with a broken nose, junior forward Antun Maricevic sparked a 5-0 USF run with consecutive layups to push the lead to 53-46 with 12 minutes left.

“I thought he played really well, he gave us a good jump start,” Gregory added.” He rebounded the ball, kept the guys off the glass...he’s learning how to play what is needed at this level.”

Maricevic finished with a season-high 10 points, adding four rebounds and an assist.

After allowing a double-digit lead to shrink to two points with 2:07 remaining, the Bulls forced a few key Hatters turnovers to hang on.

USF returns to action on Friday night, hosting Colgate at 8:30 p.m.