TAMPA - Junior Dominique Jones hit a driving layup with 14.5 seconds left and sank three straight free throws after Sharaud Curry was called for a technical to give the University of South Florida men's basketball team a come-from-behind 99-93 victory over Providence Saturday night at the Sun Dome.
The win improved USF to 17-11 overall and 7-9 in the BIG EAST. Providence fell to 12-16 overall, 4-12 in the conference.
USF found itself down by nine points with seven and a half minutes remaining, but the Bulls slowly chipped away at the deficit until sophomore Augustus Gilchrist hit a pretty turnaround jumper to finally give USF the lead back at 91-90 with 2:11 remaining.
Senior Chris Howard sank a free throw to make it 92-90, but Curry came back and hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining just over the reach of Howard as Providence took the lead back at 93-92.
That lead turned out to be short lived for the Friars, as Howard inbounded the ball to a streaking Jones who immediately went down the court and finger rolled the fastbreak layup over the front of the rim with 14.5 seconds to go.
Curry was called for the foul on Jones on the make, then proceeded to slam the ball on the court that drew a technical from the ref. Jones calmly sank all three free throws for a 97-93 lead.
Duke Mondy's 3-pointer with five seconds to go was blocked by senior Mike Mercer, and sophomore Augustus Gilchrist hit two free throws on the other end to ice the 99-93 win.
Jones led the way for the Bulls with 26 points on the night, including his usual outburst in the second half as he scored 15 in the second stanza. Jones hit 6-of-13 on the night, including 14-of-16 from the free throw line to tie his career high, while also adding a game-high nine rebounds.
Gilchrist and Howard joined Jones in the scoring column with 21 and 20, respectively, while Mercer posted 18. The quartet combined for 85 of USF's 99 points on the night.
As a team, the Bulls hit a season-high 57.1 percent from the floor on 32-of-56 shooting, and were on fire from the free throw line, hitting 32-of-38 (84.2 percent) from the charity stripe.
Curry and Jamine Peterson each poured in 26 for the Friars, while Marshon Brooks chipped in with 16. Curry also added five assists on the night.
Providence hit 36-of-72 (50 percent) on the night, including 10-of-27 (37 percent) from beyond the arc. USF held the advantage in points in the paint, 54-44, along with a 39-32 edge in rebounds.
USF fell behind right off the bat, as Bilal Dixon hit a jumper 20 seconds into play to put Providence on the board first. The Friars outscored USF, 11-4, to open the game, forcing head coach Stan Heath to call a timeout less than three minutes into play.
The Bulls, though, scored the next seven points to tie it up at 11-all after Jones hit a layup with 15:02 on the clock.
The Friars quickly turned things back around in their favor, scoring the game's next 10 points to get the lead to double digits at 21-11 with 13:09 left. USF was still down by seven at 11:09 at the under-12 media timeout, but the Bulls would catch fire from that point forward, hitting 18-of-24 shots from that point until 11:20 left in the second half at the under-12 media timeout.
With 11:09 remaining in the first half, USF was able to get to slowly chip away at the lead, getting as close as two when Mercer hit a layup at the 8:04 mark to make it 28-26 Providence.
The Friars maintained the lead until Gilchrist hit a nifty turnaround jumper to pull USF to one at 40-39 with 3:01 on the clock which was followed by a layup by Mercer at 2:26, the end of a 9-0 run for the Bulls, that finally gave USF its first lead of the night.
The teams traded baskets and the lead until Peterson hit a free throw with 35 seconds left in the half to give the Friars their 48-46 lead going into the locker room.
The Friars maintained between a one- and five-point lead through the first several minutes of the second half, but Howard slammed home a dunk to tie it at 59-59 with 15:28 to go before feeding Mercer for an alley-oop dunk 16 seconds later as USF got the lead back. Mercer's jumper at 13:41 gave the Bulls a 66-64 lead, but an 11-3 run by the Friars put USF down by eight at 77-69 with a little more than 10 minutes to go.
Brooks sank a free throw at the 7:37 mark as Providence went up by nine at 82-73, but from there the Bulls trimmed the lead down before the team's last minute heroics.
The Bulls will be back in action Tuesday at DePaul at 7:30 p.m. before returning to the Sun Dome for the regular season finale next Saturday at 2 p.m. against UConn.
USF Men's Basketball
USF vs. Providence
Feb. 27, 2010
USF Sun Dome
USF scored more than 80 points for just the second time this season, the other time was the last outing against Providence on Jan. 23, when the Bulls defeated the Friars 109-105 in overtime.
USF hit 32-of-38 (84.2%) at the free throw line against Providence. The previous season-best was 82.4 percent (14-17) against Notre Dame on Jan. 5.
USF hit 32-of-56 from the field, shooting 57.1 percent from the field, the best clip of the season. The previous best was 24-of-45, 53.3 percent, against Virginia.
USF shot 18-of-24 (75%) during a stretch from 11-minute mark of the first half to the under 12 minute timeout of the second period.
Coach Stan Heath has a sweep of a BIG EAST team in all three of his seasons with the Bulls, doubling up wins on Rutgers (2007-08), DePaul (2008-09) and now Providence.
The Bulls are now 3-5 all-time against the Friars and Coach Stan Heath is now 2-2 all-time against Providence.
With their 17-11 overall record, the Bulls are chasing the school's best record since 2001-02, when USF won 19 games and played in the NIT. Ten years prior, USF also had 19 wins and played in the NCAA Tournament.
2009-10 - 17-11
2001-02 - 19-13 - NIT
1991-92 - 19-10 - NCAA
USF has posted a 17-win season just five times in 39 seasons of men's basketball.
1981-82, 17-11 Sun Belt
1983-84, 17-11 Sun Belt
1997-98, 17-13 C-USA
1999-00, 17-14 C-USA
2009-10, 17-11 BIG EAST
USF has collected 17 wins or more only 15 times in 39 seasons of men's basketball.
17 wins 1981-82, 1983-84, 1997-98, 1999-00, 2009-10
18 wins 1980-81, 1984-85, 1994-95, 2000-01
19 wins 1975-76, 1990-91, 1991-92, 2001-02
20 wins 1989-90
21 wins none
22 wins 1982-83
Head Coach Stan Heath picked up his 150th career win with the victory over Providence
Junior guard Dominique Jones, sophomore forward Augustus Gilchrist and senior guard Chris Howard scored 26, 21 and 20 points, respectively, against Providence. The last time two players scored 20 points or more was on Feb. 25, 2009 when Jones had 20 and Augustus Gilchrist had 20 at Seton Hall.
Gilchrist scored 21 points against PC, the most since his 27 against FAU on Nov. 27.
Howard made his 100th career start in tonight's game against Providence. He has played in 104 career games as a Bull.
Howard has scored double-digit points in eight of the last 11 games.
Jones was 14-of-16 (87.5%) at the line accounting for the seventh game this season that he has hit at least 10 free throws in a game.
With his 26 points, Jones was just one rebound shy of his sixth career double-double.
Jones moved into fifth place on USF's single-season point total with his 600 points, surpassing Altron Jackson's 587 in 2000-01. Jones now trails Jackson's fourth-place 2001-02 season total of 616.
Jones also took over second place on USF's single-season free throws made list. Jones now has 172 free throws on the season, trailing Charlie Bradley's category-leading 189 made free throws in 1982-83.
Senior guard Mike Mercer scored 18 points, just one point shy of his career high of 19, which he accomplished twice this season, the last time at Providence on Jan. 23.
Mercer tied his season high in minutes played with 37, which he has done three times this season.
Sophomore guard Anthony Crater drained a pair of long balls for just the second time in his short USF career. The other time was at Georgetown on Feb. 3.