Dark Night In Sunshine State
By MARK DIDTLER
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Martino Brock scored 18 points, Victor Rudd had 17, and South Florida beat Connecticut 65-51 on Wednesday night.
“He’s a high-energy guy, and he gives us another option scoring and making plays,” South Florida coach Stan Heath said of Brock. “It makes us a better team and a tougher team to guard.”
Zach LeDay added 11 points for the Bulls (12-17, 3-14 Big East), who have won two straight following a 10-game losing streak.
Connecticut (19-10, 9-8) got 23 points and 10 rebounds from DeAndre Daniels. Huskies junior guard Shabazz Napier, averaging 17.6 points in conference games, missed his second consecutive game due to a foot injury.
Brock had three baskets and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick made a long-range jumper during an 11-2 surge that gave South Florida a 39-34 lead 5 minutes into the second half. Brock’s layup, a 3-pointer by Rudd and a free throw from LeDay made it 47-36 with 10:10 left.
“The second half was the key,” Heath said. “It was kind of a boxing match back and forth, and both teams were throwing punches. I thought the second half, after the first two minutes, we got on a run, and we kept our foot right where it needed to be and finished the way we wanted to.”
Brock converted a fast-break layup to put the Bulls ahead 53-38. Consecutive slams by Rudd made it 61-44 with 4:07 remaining.
“A tough second half,” Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. “USF played very, very well.”
The Huskies took their first lead of the game, at 30-28, on second-half opening baskets by R.J. Evans and Daniels.
Brock had six points to help the Bulls take a 28-26 halftime lead.
Fitzpatrick made a 3 and Anthony Collins had a layup as South Florida opened the game with a 9-2 run. Javontae Hawkins’ basket extended the Bulls’ advantage to 21-13 midway through the half.
The Huskies got within 25-24 with 5 minutes to go on a basket and 3-pointer by Daniels, who had 15 first-half points. Connecticut had a chance to tie it in the final minute of the half, but Omar Calhoun missed a wide-open dunk.
Calhoun, who went 1 for 14 from the floor, had three points. Ryan Boatright had 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
“Omar and Ryan, for them to shoot that bad, it’s kind of tough for us to win games,” Ollie said.
Connecticut, behind 24 points by Napier, won the other meeting between the teams this season, 69-64 in overtime on Feb 3.
“We were very motivated,” Rudd said. “We felt like we should have won that game. We handed it away, and we wanted to come back and break even.”
Huskies forward Tyler Olander left in the second half with what Ollie called a bruised left leg.