TAMPA - University of South Florida junior Dominique Jones scored 24 points, including eight from the free throw line, in the Bulls' 59-56 loss to Central Michigan University Sunday afternoon in the Sun Dome.
After rookie Shaun Noriega's three-point attempt rimmed out with seven seconds left and CMU missed a free throw, Jones grabbed the rebound then tossed up a last-second half-court shot that was off the mark.
"That was a disappointing loss, I just think our team swallowed a little poison, thinking we were better than what we are," said head coach Stan Heath. "We didn't realize we had to come and play every game. We allowed Central Michigan to run their stuff and we allowed them to be the aggressive team, and that's not how we have been playing all year long."
USF falls to 7-2 on the season while CMU improved to 4-5 with the victory.
Jones' 24 points were his second-most this season, trailing only the 28 he scored against UNC-Wilmington. The Lake Wales native was 8-of-8 at the line and 7-of-18 from the floor while grabbing five rebounds.
Senior Mike Mercer and freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick each pulled down a team-high seven boards and senior Chris Howard scored 13 points for the second-straight game.
Mercer, who started the game as a forward, had six rebounds and five points in the first half, tying his season-high for rebounds.
The game was the Bulls' first outing without starting sophomore forward and team scoring leader, Augustus Gilchrist, who suffered a right ankle sprain last week in practice.
Despite the absence of Gilchrist, the Bulls outscored CMU 26-14 in the paint. The Chippewas, though, outscored the Bulls 17-5 off the bench and 17-7 in second-chance points.
USF started the scoring in the first half with a steal and dunk by Mercer, but quickly fell behind by eight, the Bulls' largest deficit of the season.
The Bulls used a 7-0 run in the middle of the period to tie the game at 17, topped by a three-point play by Jones.
CMU halted USF's nine-point run at the 7:44 mark, hitting a two-point bucket, but the Bulls continued to find the bottom of the net and took their largest lead to that point in the game, 23-19.
With one minute left in the half, a dunk by Jones matched the four-point lead, exciting the crowd and slowing CMU's tempo.
Jones had 13 points in the first half, tying his season-best for the first period, a mark he hit against Virginia on Nov. 16.
USF led 31-30 at the half, but CMU regained the lead just 30 seconds into the second period, beginning a see-saw battle in a game that saw nine lead changes.
With nearly six minutes remaining in the game, USF found themselves down by seven, but a 7-0 run, capped with a dunk by junior Jarrid Famous, tied the game.
Within 45 seconds, CMU had rebuilt its lead to five, but the Bulls battled back.
USF scored four unanswered points, and with 38 seconds remaining, Mercer hit a layup to draw the score within one.
As CMU brought the ball up the court, the Bulls trapped the ball at midcourt and forced a jump ball, getting the ball back for the final possession. An errant pass by the Bulls turned the ball over to CMU with 17 seconds left in the game.
USF fouled a Chippewa, who proceeded to hit both free throws. USF's rookie Noriega attempted a trey from the corner, but the ball circled the iron and rimmed out. USF fouled on the rebound, then CMU missed the free throw. Jones grabbed the rebound and attempted a half-court shot, but missed the mark, ending the game.
"There were a lot of glaring holes today and some holes I hadn't seen before," added Heath. But I think it's fixable, it's just disappointing."
USF returns to the Sun Dome Wednesday night when the Bulls face in-state foe UCF at 7 p.m.
Central Michigan 59, USF 56
Men's Basketball Postgame Notes
December 13, 2009
USF Sun Dome
- USF has now lost two games this season by a total of six points. The first was a three-point, 69-66, defeat to South Carolina at the Charleston Classic. The second was today's 59-56 setback.
- USF falls to 2-1 against CMU. Previously, USF defeated CMU, 58-46, in the USF Holiday Invitational in Tampa on Dec. 21, 1996, then on Nov. 24, 1998, the Bulls squeaked past the Chippewas 58-55 in Tampa.
-Head coach Stan Heath is in his 23rd season of coaching, ninth as a head coach and third at USF. He has posted a 140-120 overall record and is 28-43 at USF.
-USF is 13-3 in non-conference home games in the Stan Heath era.
-USF is 10-5 against teams currently in the Mid-American Conference. The Bulls defeated Kent State, 76-54, earlier this season, but before that, the last time USF faced a MAC team was the 76-69 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 13, 2007.
- CMU hit 11 long balls against USF, the most the Bulls have given up this season. The previous high was FAU's seven on Nov. 27. USF was leading the BIG EAST in three-point defense (.262) prior to the game.
- As a team, USF hit 72.7 percent (16-22) from the freethrow line, the team's best percentage of the year.
- Junior Dominique Jones had 13 points in the first half, tying his season-best first period, a mark he hit against Virginia on Nov. 16. Jones ended the night with 24 points.
- Jones was 8-of-8 (100%) from the free throw line, the team's season-best percentage, tying teammate Augustus Gilchrist's 7-of-7 outing against Virginia (11/16).
- Freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick grabbed seven rebounds, his season best. His previous season-high was six against UNC-Wilmington in the Charleston Classic.
-After just two seasons with the Bulls, Dominique Jones is currently listed on five career records lists at USF and looking in on four more. He is eighth in field goals attempted (964), ninth in scoring (1,247 points), three point field goals made (122) and three pointers attempted (369) and free throws made (273). He is also just 30 attempted free throws, 17 made field goals, 13 steals and 62 assists away from 10th in each category.