On Gasparilla, the USF men’s basketball team struck a blow for barbossas, buccaneers, and salty dogs all over Tampa with a 77-57 win over the East Carolina Pirates at Minges Coliseum in Greenville.
Alexis Yetna led the way for the Bulls (14-6, 4-4 American) with a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds. The once and probably future AAC Freshman of the Week had a double-double in the second half alone. His 20 points and 10 boards after halftime helped USF extend a tenuous two-point lead and turn the game into a comfortable win.
Once again USF fell behind early on. The Bulls missed 8 of their first 10 shots, while East Carolina made 9 of their first 13. When Tyler Foster made a short jump shot a little over seven minutes into the game, USF was behind 19-6. However, the Bulls immediately answered with a 11-0 run, then used another 11-0 run to take their first lead of the game. Laquincy Rideau’s layup gave USF a 28-27 advantage. Even though he had a rough game shooting the ball, Rideau finished with a double-double of his own, scoring 10 points to go with 10 assists and four steals.
The Pirates (8-11, 1-6 American) briefly took a 41-40 lead early in the second half, but another Bulls scoring run gave USF a lead they never came close to losing. Yetna’s layup closed out a 14-2 burst to put USF up 54-43.
The Bulls outrebounded ECU 41-32, scored 42 points in the paint, and only committed six turnovers. Justin Brown added 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Michael Durr scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Jayden Gardner had 15 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Pirates.
USF now gets an entire week to rest and get ready for the Memphis Tigers next Saturday at noon at the Yuengling Center. A win in any of their final 10 regular-season games will give the Bulls their most conference wins since the American was formed in 2013-14. Two more wins will clinch USF’s first winning season since their NCAA Tournament run in 2012.