TAMPA — After emerging from one of the most wildly entertaining games ever staged at the Sun Dome, the University of South Florida men’s basketball team is still rolling.
The Bulls defeated Florida Gulf Coast University 68-66 in Tuesday night’s double-overtime thriller. USF is 7-2 and winners of three straight games heading into tonight’s home contest against Florida A&M.
“We’re doing things well at the end of games,’’ USF coach Stan Heath said.
And that includes a little luck, too.
Only one-tenth of a second separated USF and FGCU from triple overtime.
With 0.3 seconds remaining, FGCU’s Jamail Jones executed a perfect length-of-the-court baseball pass – over 7-foot-3 on-ball defender Jordan Omogbehin – that dropped into the hands of Chase Fieler, who popped off a double screen. Fieler’s quick baseline shot went in.
But it was disallowed because the rules say only a tap-in – not a catch-and-shoot – is possible with three-tenths of a second or less.
Jones’ full-court pass was among the Sun Dome’s most jaw-dropping plays – maybe only behind Charlie Bradley’s falling-out-of-bounds 35-footer at the regulation buzzer against Florida in 1983 – but it was just the punctuation mark on an amazing night.
* USF outdunked Dunk City (FGCU) 5-1.
* FGCU’s Nate Hicks had a Rodman-like boxscore line – 19 rebounds (all defensive), five blocked shots, zero points. Only Old Dominion’s Chris Gatling (20 in 1990) had more rebounds for an opposing player at the Sun Dome.
* FGCU’s Bernard Thompson had a career-high 32 points – 20 in the second half alone – and six 3-pointers — playing all 50 minutes.
* USF’s Victor Rudd was clutch with seven points in the second overtime in earning his first double-double (23 points, 14 rebounds) of the season.
There are still major shooting concerns for the Bulls, who are ninth among 10 teams in the American Athletic Conference in shooting percentage (43.7 percent), while standing last in 3-point percentage (26.2). USF, 7-for-20 at the line against FGCU, is seventh in free-throw shooting (67.7).
But those numbers are much more palatable after a victory. Following the crazy win against FGCU, even when knowing improvement was mandatory, Heath wasn’t complaining.
Lattimore named MVP
Senior MLB DeDe Lattimore, who had 18 tackles in the regular-season finale at Rutgers and finished second all-time in career tackles, was named John and Cynthia Ruzic Most Valuable Player at the football team’s banquet.
Junior WR Andre Davis, who had a school single-season record 735 receiving yards, was named Offensive MVP. Senior DE Tevin Mims was named Defensive MVP.
Other awards: Captains Awards, sophomore QB Matt Floyd and junior PK Marvin Kloss; Frank Morsani Leadership Award, freshman QB Mike White and junior LB Reshard Cliett; Freshman of the Year, SS Nate Godwin; Offensive Line Award, junior C Austin Reiter; Defensive Line Award, senior DT Elkino Watson; Most Improved Player, junior WR Chris Dunkley; Tough Man Award, senior DE Ryne Giddins; Academic Excellence Award, senior DT Luke Sager; Lee Roy Selmon Award, senior QB Bobby Eveld; Jim and Laurie Ragsdale Outstanding Walk-On Award, senior CB Brandon Salinas; Scout Team Award, freshman QB Tommy Eveld and sophomore DE Daniel Awoleke; “I Got Your 6’’ Award, state troopers Jack Hypes and Mike Cendan.
Kloss, a Lou Groza Award finalist, who made 18 of 23 field-goal attempts, was named second-team All-American by Athlon Sports. …Thirty USF athletes participated in Saturday’s graduation ceremonies. One was a name from the past – former men’s basketball player and 7-foot-5 high-jumper Jimmy Baxter, 33, who has played a decade’s worth of professional basketball. He received his Interdisciplinary Social Sciences degree. Meanwhile, Sager received a master’s degree and Lattimore became the first person in his family to earn a degree. …Women’s basketball senior Inga Orekhova, a preseason second-team All-AAC selection, recently underwent knee surgery and was expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Twelve days after surgery, she started in a 75-56 loss at Oklahoma State. She had 13 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes.