HARTFORD, Conn., MARCH 9, 2017 – Tulio Da Silva set USF’s freshman rebounding record, while the no-quit Bulls hung tough with the Huskies in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference Championship on Thursday night.
Rallying USF worked a 15-point deficit down to two late in a 77-66 loss to sixth-seeded UConn at the XL Center. USF (7-23) finished the second half with a 37-35 scoring advantage in an attempt to win consecutive first-round games at the season-ending tournament.
Da Silva grabbed seven boards to give him USF's new freshman rebounding record with 203. The forward from Formiga, Brazil added 10 points in his 18th double-digit scoring game of the season.
Junior Geno Thorpe (Pittsburgh, Pa.) scored 12 of his team-high 23 points after the break to lead the Bulls’ rally. Freshman Michael Bibby (Phoenix, Ariz.) finished with 13 points and his final free throw made it a three-point game with 1:47 remaining.
Rodney Purvis answered with a 3-pointer and UConn (15-16) closed the game on a 10-1 run. Purvis scored 17 of his career-high 30 points in the second half.
USF had the hot hand early. The Bulls sank six of seven shots during a 12-2 run that gave USF a 12-11 lead less than six minutes into the action. Five different Bulls contributed to the run that included 3-pointers from Thorpe and sophomore Troy Holston (Queens, N.Y.).
UConn responded with a 14-2 run and headed into halftime with a 42-29 lead. The Huskies went 17-for-18 from the free throw line in the opening stanza.
Bibby helped USF heat back up in a hurry after halftime with a pair of 3-pointers that powered a 10-0 run. Bibby’s second bucket from long range cut the UConn lead to 44-39 just over three minutes into the second half.
Despite playing in front of a loud UConn crowd, the young USF lineup hung with the Huskies to the finish.
Thorpe knocked down his third 3-pointer and Ruben Guerrero’s layup capped off 5-0 run. The deficit was brought down to 54-52 with 11:22 remaining. Thorpe’s fourth 3-pointer pulled USF back within two points of UConn in the final three minutes of the game.
10- 1 -- UConn closed the game on a 10-1 run after Michael Bibby’s free throw cut the USF deficit to 69-66 with 1:47 remaining.
21 – UConn scored 21 points off 21 USF turnovers.
- Freshman forward Malik Fitts missed the game with an injury, finishing his debut season with 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
- With seven boards, Tulio Da Silva passed John Egbunu's freshman rebounding record (198) set in 2013-14.
- Da Silva scored 10-plus points in nine of the final 12 games of the season.
- Geno Thorpe finished with a team-high 23 points in his eighth 20-point outing of the season.
About USF Men’s Basketball
The USF men’s basketball team is led by interim head coach Murry Bartow. Coach Bartow has served as a collegiate basketball coach for 30 seasons and boasts eight postseason tournaments, including four NCAA Tournaments.The Bulls feature freshman Tulio Da Silva, junior Ruben Guerrero, sophomore Troy Holston and juniorGeno Thorpe.
USF has retired three numbers in its 46-year history: Chucky Atkins (12), Charlie Bradley (30) and Radenko Dobras (31). The Bulls have earned three NCAA tournament bids and appeared in the NIT eight times. In the 2011-12 season, USF was one win away from an appearance in the Sweet 16.
For tickets, contact the USF Ticket Office at 1-800-Go-Bulls or by going online to USFBullsTix.com.