TAMPA - The Bulls couldn't catch up after a slow start in a 70-47 loss to No. 24 Marquette on Wednesday night at the Sun Dome.
Freshman forward Zach LeDay was the lone Bull in double figures with game-high 14 points as USF dropped to 10-12 (1-9 in Big East). LeDay stepped up with 12 points in the second half after the Bulls put up 16 points in the entire opening period.
"We dug ourselves a bad hole in the first half," USF head coach Stan Heath said.
Marquette (16-5, 7-2) forced 14 turnovers in the first half and scored 23 points off the takeaways on the way to a big lead. The Bulls turned the ball over only five times after the break.
"I think we were being overly aggressive," senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick said. "They made us pay for silly turnovers and they got easy baskets."
USF's defense did a better job against Marquette's Vander Blue in the finale of the teams' two-game season series. The junior guard tied for the team lead with 13 points six days after scoring a career-high 30 points in a 63-50 victory over the Bulls in Milwaukee. Todd Mayo also finished with 13 points, Junior Cadougan scored 11 points and Jamil Wilson added 10 more as Marquette bounced back from a 70-51 loss to No. 12/13 Louisville on Sunday.
The Bulls look to bounce back 3 p.m. Saturday at Villanova before returning to the Sun Dome to host Providence on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 9 p.m.
"We just have to find ourselves a little bit tougher and a little bit more efficient on the offensive end," Heath said.