I don’t think the last-minute 70-69 victory that No. 15-seeded South Florida Bulls’ pulled out Tuesday night against No. 10 Villanova Wildcats will jump start the USF basketball program. However, at least for one night the ones that live and breathe South Florida hoops can celebrate like they’ve won the NCAA Tournament title.
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it may have been slightly handed to USF (who ’Nova’s sophmore guard Maalik Wayns was throwing to on an inbound pass with just under 30 seconds to go we will never know), but its the program’s first ever Big East Tournament victory. And, in this league you take what you can get.
Until Tuesday night, USF had never beaten ‘Nova, but that streak ended when junior guard Anthony Crater went baseline-to-baseline and netted the game-winning, 2-point layup with seven seconds to go. Nobody stormed the court (the USF fans were about 1,500 miles away reading up on Spring football practice) and there wasn’t any, “No one believed in us” postgame cliches (trust me, I don’t think the Bulls believed in themselves after being down 16-points at halftime). However, it was a thrilling victory that those player will never forget and neither will Villanova fans.
Speaking of ‘Nova fans. Wow. What an amazing, atrocious collapse by the Wildcats, who now have lost five straight games and seven of their last nine (it’s getting to the point where ‘Nova will start feeling guilty for taking a mid-major’s NCAA at-large bid).
I really don’t know who ‘Nova nation should be mad at: Head coach Jay Wright for calling off the dogs with 18 minutes to go in the game? Senior guard Corey Stokes who failed to score in the second half? Or just your bad luck. Whatever you choose, please remember that you’ll need that antique lamp for a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament.