By Kellan King
After Monday night’s brutal loss against UT-Arlington, the USF had no time to dwell on mistakes, instead focusing on tonight’s matchup against a ranked Arizona State. The Dons started their fourth different starting lineup of the year, going with Josh Kunen and Saba Gigiberia in the frontcourt.
The Dons got off to a great start, getting four straight stops and knocking down three threes to take an early 9-0 lead, before a Frankie Collins tip-in got the Sun Devils on the board. However, USF was unfazed, and went on a 7-0 run capped off by a thunderous Isaiah Hawthorne slam that sent War Memorial Gymnasium into a frenzy and forced Bobby Hurley to take a timeout.
After the timeout, USF continued to put the pressure on ASU, scoring eight more to extend the lead to 22. At this point, the Sun Devils started to get a little rhythm, aided by some poor fouls from the Dons, and hit four free throws to cut the Dons lead to 20. Isaiah Hawthorne kept USF going, scoring five straight and putting USF back up 24, and then two threes from Khalil Shabazz and Zane Meeks gave USF a massive 30 point lead. After a couple minutes of back and forth play, the Dons went into the half leading 50-23.
Coming out of the half, USF didn’t show any mercy to the Sun Devils. They continued to play suffocating defense, and scored three straight buckets off great assists, finishing off a 7-0 run with a Tyrell Roberts three off a cross court pass from Khalil Shabazz. And once again, when it looked like USF might let up, they did not. Khalil Shabazz started to get hot, scoring eight straight points, and giving USF a 65-25 lead.
Coach Hurley tried to make some adjustments to slow down the Dons, including a full court trap, and while it sped the tempo of the game, it did little to slow USF’s onslaught of threes. Things started to get a little chippy in the second half after Devan Cambridge and Isaiah Hawthorne got tangled up, leading to a flagrant on Cambridge. As USF continued to extend the lead, Bobby Hurley continued to get more enraged. After a possible missed call by a ref, Hurley exploded, leading to a technical.
The last eight minutes of the half involved lots of blown whistles, and in turn lots of free throws. However, Hurley continued to talk to the refs, and with just over four minutes to play a red faced Hurley was given his second tech of the game, and ejected. Justin Bieker got in on the scoring action after the ejection, scoring a two foot layup to give USF a 94-47 lead. In the end, USF won 97-60 after some garbage time scoring from the Sun Devils.
USF will have to stay focused though and not have a repeat of Monday when they take on Hartford tomorrow night.
After the game I spoke with Head Coach Chris Gerlufsen and Junior Forward Isaiah Hawthorne