Make that: Inc-RUDD-ible!
In perhaps the most stirring, bizarre and wild game ever at the Sun Dome, the University of South Florida Bulls rallied for an 87-84 triple-overtime victory against the Bowling Green Falcons on Friday night.
"Games like these will unify you. Wow!'' USF coach Stan Heath said.
USF junior forward Victor Rudd had a game-high 29 points in 53 minutes, including a layup with 13 seconds remaining in the third overtime, then a go-ahead free throw to put the Bulls up 85-84 after he was fouled on the play.
But the play was set up by a stunning block from USF's Martino Brock.
With the Falcons leads 84-82, BG's Anthony Henderson received a deep three-quarters-court pass from Jordon Crawford. Henderson seemed ready to soar in for a dunk or layup, putting BG up by four points, the probable dagger.
Brock timed his leap perfectly, though, deflecting the shot. Rudd got it on the other end — and USF stole back the momentum.
"That was the moment, the defensive play of the year,'' Heath said.
"If we get the dunk, the layup or the foul call (maybe the game is over),'' BG coach Louis Orr said.
USF improved to 7-3 heading into the holiday break, while BG slipped to 5-6.
Rudd had a night of highlights.
With under a minute to play in regulation, the Bulls were down by seven points. But they clawed back, getting a key 3-pointer from Jawanza Poland with 44 seconds left. When BG's A'uston Calhoun missed the second of two free throws, the Falcons led 61-58. Rudd put it in the first overtime on a 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Rudd's 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining in the second overtime also tied it, 78-78.
Then there was the crazy first overtime, when an electrical problem caused the Sun Dome lights to malfunction, just when Poland stepped to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. After a 22-minute delay, with a four-point lead, Poland missed.
After BG converted, USF point guard Anthony Collins missed another one-and-one with 14 seconds left, allowing the Falcons to tie it and force the second overtime.
"This was the kind of game you love being part of,'' Rudd said.
BG's Crawford, a 5-foot-6 bearded guard, had 27 points even though he was held scoreless until the 14:13 mark of the second half. Brock had 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, one huge blocked shot and zero turnovers in 52 minutes.
"I am tired,'' Brock said afterward.
It was the second-longest USF game ever played, behind a four-overtime contest at New Orleans in 1979.
"I've never been in a triple-overtime game as a player or a coach,'' Heath said. "This was a first for me. If you just look at the game — how it was played, how it was contested, all the things that happened — it was at the top of my list. It was some kind of night.''
It was incredible.
Make that: Inc-RUDD-ible.
SOUTH FLORIDA 87, BOWLING GREEN 84
Up next: George Mason at USF
When: Dec. 29, 7 p.m.
TV: BHSN, Ch. 47