TAMPA , Fla. (AP) — Given the chance to make a good impression, South Florida capitalized.
Ron Anderson scored 14 points and helped the Bulls come back to make No. 24 Seton Hall’s return to the rankings look like a short one with a 56-55 win Friday night.
Anderson had six points in a game-ending 14-3 run, Jawanza Poland made a long 3-pointer to tie it at 53 and Toaryln Fitzpatrick’s three-point play put the Bulls (10-8, 3-2 Big East) ahead for good with just under a minute to go.
“It says a lot about our team,” Anderson said. “We really wanted this win. I think everybody could see that.”
Seton Hall, ranked for the first time in 11 years, trimmed its deficit to one on its only field goal in the final six minutes. Jordan Theodore led the Pirates (15-3, 4-2) with 16 points but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with a chance to put his team ahead with 3.8 seconds remaining.
“I think they’re a top-tier (Big East) team, especially at home,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “They’re going to be in every game because of their size.”
South Florida outscored Seton Hall 14-2 on second-chance points.
Poor offensive execution against USF’s 1-3-1 zone doomed Seton Hall down the stretch. Coming out of a timeout during the crucial stretch in which Anderson made a layup and Poland followed with his 3-pointer that wiped out the remainder of what had been a 10-point lead, the Pirates had two turnovers and a shot clock violation.
“Our guys really hung tough,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “There’s a lot of big plays made offensively and defensively.”
Heath added it was huge to beat a top-25 opponent.
“We knew Seton Hall was on a roll,” Heath said. “In our league you’re going to get a lot of opportunities with so many good teams. It’s something that we need to do because we want to have a good year.”
Patrik Auda’s putback with 24 seconds remaining was Seton Hall’s only field goal after Aaron Cosby’s 3-pointer put the Pirates up 52-42.
Fuquan Edwin scored a career-high 28 points Tuesday night to help the Pirates cruise past DePaul in their first game as a ranked team since 2001. Facing the Big East’s second-ranked scoring defense turned out to be a much bigger challenge in the largely empty 20,000-seat Tampa Bay Times Forum as the sophomore was limited to four points on 2-of-5 shooting.
USF tied it 27-27 at the half on a 3-pointer by Poland, who missed a critical free throw late to give Seton Hall a chance to win it at the end. The Bulls led 33-29 before going cold from the field and gradually watching Theodore and Haralds Karlis lead an 18-5 run that seemingly put Seton Hall in control.
“Coach, he’s been harping on all season, just play for a full 40 minutes, Anderson said. “We’ve had a lot games this season where we haven’t put together a complete 40. We played 40 minutes tonight. If we don’t quit, things fall in your favor and we saw that tonight.”
Theodore began the push with a pair of layups, then made a long 3-pointer to put the Pirates on top. Karlis, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Latvia who was averaging just 3.2 points per game, added the next nine points in the surge to put the Pirates up 47-38. Cosby’s 3-pointer gave them their biggest lead of the night with six minutes to go.
The loss stopped Seton Hall’s four-game winning streak. The Pirates, off to their best start in the Big East since the 1999-2000 season, have won 12 of their past 14. The only other loss during that stretch was to top-ranked Syracuse.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.