South Florida smothers Cal for first tourney winMar 15, 2012 - 5:15 AM Dayton, OH (Sports Network) - South Florida put on a defensive showcase and shut down California, 65-54, to capture the program's first win in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls and Golden Bears were two of the last four at-large teams selected into the tourney, but only the former showed they belonged in the now 64-team field. The No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region set up a date with fifth-seeded Temple in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday.
Despite not having a player average double digits coming in, South Florida (21-13) had four do so in Wednesday's opening-round mismatch.
Victor Rudd Jr. netted 15 points, Anthony Collins had 12, Augustus Gilchrist chipped in 11 and Jawanza Poland rounded out the high scorers with 10 in the Bulls' first NCAA tourney appearance in 20 years.
The real difference was South Florida's Big East-best defense. The Bears (24-10) were held to 13 points in the first half and wound up shooting 36 percent overall, including a 3-for-14 effort from behind the arc.
"It feels good to win on this stage," Rudd said. "People didn't expect us to be here. So we just want to make our point proving that we deserve to be here. And we want to keep going."
Harper Kamp led Cal in scoring with 19 points, while Jorge Gutierrez, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, netted just 11 points in defeat.
South Florida opened the first half on an 8-0 run and ended it by scoring the final 14 points.
The ball was bouncing the Bulls' way early and often, illustrated perfectly by Rudd banking in a three-pointer from the right side for a 13-3 lead less than seven minutes in.
The Bears missed their final 10 shots of the opening half, which ended with Shaun Noriega nailing a three-pointer for a healthy 36-13 Bulls lead.
University of Dayton Arena witnessed epic comebacks in two "First Four" games on Tuesday, but Cal couldn't solve the Bulls' swarming defense to pull off another shocker.
Instead, the second half was reserved for several highlight-reel dunks by the Bulls.
Rudd's tomahawk dunk produced a 47-21 advantage 5 1/2 minutes into the second half, and a pair of Cal three-pointers a little later was answered by Poland's emphatic putback slam of a Gilchrist miss.
The Bears ended the game on a 23-6 run to make the final score appear closer than the game actually was. They avoided a season-low output when Rob Filley made a jumper in the closing seconds.
"We dug ourselves a huge hole in the first half and [it was] probably as bad as I've seen us play," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. "Give them credit. They were fired up. They played hard. They played well. They made shots. They made plays. We didn't."
The only other NCAA appearances for USF came in 1990 and '92...Cal fell to 19-17 in NCAA tourney games...The Bulls set a Big East scoring record by allowing just 56.9 points per game. They have allowed 57 or less points in each of their past 11 games...The 13-point first-half effort was easily the Bears' lowest output of the season. The previous was 22 in a 57-50 win over Colorado on January 12...Allen Crabbe, Cal's leading scorer at 15.3 points per game coming in, finished with 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 65
Mar 14 11:18 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 36
Mar 14 10:03 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 14 9:18 PM
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