Jawanza Poland scored 16 points as the South Florida Bulls knocked off the #19 Louisville Cardinals 58-51 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville on Wednesday night. The win keeps USF alive for a double-bye in the Big East tournament, but more importantly, they finally got the marquee win they desperately needed in their bid to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992.
The Bulls scored the first basket of the second half to extend their lead to 24-17. But Louisville answered with a 17-6 run over the next five-plus minutes, finishing it with a Chris Smith three-pointer that gave the Cardinals a 34-30 advantage. After a few minutes of fencing and parrying, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick tipped in a Victor Rudd miss to tie the score at 41 with 8:22 to play.
From there USF’s tenacious defense went to work. Louisville only scored four points from the 8:22 mark until there were just 40 seconds left. By then, the Bulls had taken a 50-45 lead, and they made eight of ten at the free-throw line down the stretch to finish off a critical win.
The Bulls finish the regular season on Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tipoff is at noon.