As the 2012-13 season approaches, we'll count down the days to the first game with a look back at some memorable games in USF basketball history. These may not be the most famous games and they may not be the most crucial to the development of the program. But they are 15 mileposts that helped to get us to where we are, and each is worth looking back at.
March 16, 1995
USF 74, St. John's 67
The Sun Dome
By JIM LOUK
TAMPA - The 1994-95 season marked the Bulls' return to postseason play.
USF finished the regular season 16-11, but a first-round Metro Tournament loss to Tulane ended the Bulls' NCAA Tournament hopes. Still, the Bulls gladly accepted a call from the NIT and prepared for their first postseason game since Boise three years earlier. This would be the fifth NIT appearance for USF. The Bulls' all-time NIT record was two wins and four losses.
St. John's from the Big East would be the first-round opponent in the Sun Dome and this would be the first time the Bulls and the newly re-named Red Storm would meet on the basketball court. The Red Storm boasted a trio of top freshmen, including one of the nation's top young players, Felipe Lopez.
Despite the fact that the game occurred on spring break, USF had a great crowd in the Sun Dome that night. It was St. John's, however, that got off to a fast start and the Bulls were quickly down six in the first half.
"We went through a period in the first half where we had a hard time scoring," said coach Bobby Paschal on his postgame radio show later that night. "But we kept defending and defending, and then we got our offensive rhythm."
The Bulls turned the game around and were rewarded with their first postseason victory in 10 years, winning, 74-67. Defense was the key for the Bulls, especially on Lopez, who came in averaging 18 points per game. USF held him to just 11 points and only two baskets the entire night.
Meanwhile for USF, there was plenty of firepower. Jesse Salters and Chucky Atkins each scored 19 points and Brian Lamb set a new career high with 14. Donzel Rush had a personal best 15 rebounds to go with eight points. Before the game was over, the Bulls got even more good news; round two would also be in Tampa, as USF would host Coppin State.
Four days later, the Bulls would easily defeat the Eagles to reach the final eight of the NIT; their deepest run in to any postseason tournament. Finally, in Milwaukee on March 22, they were eliminated by Marquette in overtime, falling one step short of a trip to New York City for the NIT Final Four.
It was a good run for the Bulls, however, and a win over a future Big East opponent helped USF re-establish their presence in the post season.