USF fades in second half of loss to VCU
RICHMOND, Va. - The University of South Florida was even with Virginia Commonwealth at halftime Wednesday night. Then things took a turn for the worse. USF forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and guard Blake Nash both went down with leg injuries midway through the second half and the Rams, a Final Four team last year, pulled away for a 69-46 victory at the Siegel Center. Besides the injuries, USF also had trouble with Virginia Commonwealth's defensive pressure and 3-point shooters after the intermission. The Bulls (5-3) had eight of their 15 turnovers and were just six of 23 (26.1 percent) from the floor while scoring 18 points in the second half. The Rams (4-3), meanwhile, connected on eight of 14 3-pointers after hitting two of 10 in the first half.USF freshman point guard Anthony Collins had six turnovers to go with six assists in his first collegiate start. "The one thing that was a struggle was he tried to handle the ball too much against double teams," Bulls head coach Stan Heath said. "A couple of times he fell down. A couple of times they took it away. He'll learn from that. He's an extremely bright kid." Early in the second half, VCU used a 16-3 spurt to go on top 39-31 before Bradford Burgess, its leading scorer, was intentionally fouled by Nash and made both foul shots. Still with possession, the Rams got a 3-pointer from Daniels to make it 44-31. The lead swelled to 21 on Daniels' trey with 5:13 left. Already without forward Augustus Gilchrist (shoulder), who did not play for the third consecutive game, the Bulls were hurt more by injuries Wednesday night. Fitzpatrick went out with an apparent ankle injury with 12:43 left in the second half after losing his balance near the lane. He was down in pain for several minutes before limping to the bench. Nash got cramps in his leg and went to the bench with 11:13 left. Both came back in the game, but the damage was done. USF went into the game with only seven healthy players.
Tim Pearrell writes for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch.