Fast historical point of view on USF’s 61-60 surprise victory over No. 4 Virginia on Friday: None of the Dons’ players — nor lead trainer Todd Golden — had been brought into the world the last time USF beat a best five group.
The Dons’ last success over a main five group came Dec. 29, 1981, a 84-74 choice over No. 2 Wichita State in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.
From beating the Shockers to stunning the Cavaliers took almost 39 years. Brilliant, 35, talked about the centrality of Friday’s success in the “Bubbleville” occasion in Uncasville, Conn.
“Virginia is a program that we aspire to be like,” Golden said in his postgame Zoom news conference. “I have incredible respect for Coach (Tony) Bennett and his program. For us to be able to compete like this on a national stage, on national TV, against one of the winningest programs in the country, this is a big, big step for our program.”
The Cavaliers, who won the latest public title in 2019, dashed to a 11-3 lead in the initial 6 ½ minutes, yet USF reacted.
Watchman Jamaree Bouyea started the Dons (2-1) as he had game highs of 19 focuses, six helps and two takes. His layup — off a decent feed from Taavi Jurkatamm — with somewhat more than three minutes remaining gave USF a 55-54 lead. The Dons were ahead to remain.
Brilliant said Bouyea “had the best game of his career,” noting the senior from Seaside played 35 minutes and did not commit a turnover. “Just a phenomenal effort. I thought he was the best player on the floor.”
That layup started a 8-0 run that put USF up 61-54 with under two minutes to go. Bouyea portrayed how he urged his colleagues down the stretch: “I said, ‘How bad do we want to win? This is the No. 4 team in the country, a national-championship team. This is the biggest game maybe of our season. How bad do we want to win?’
“I guess we wanted to win really bad. We pulled off the ‘W.’”
Virginia (1-1) had shut its deficiency to a point with 10 seconds left. The Dons’ Josh Kunen then missed the front finish of a 1-and-1. The Cavaliers got an opportunity to win it, yet Sam Hauser’s 3-point attempt was misguided and the Dons had the chance to praise a triumph made considerably more noteworthy thinking of it as was their third game in three days.
Furthermore, USF’s season didn’t start precisely promisingly. The Dons fell 76-68 to UMass Lowell on Wednesday.
“It was just a wake-up call for us,” Bouyea said of the loss.
Said Jurkatamm: “It was a bad feeling. I personally couldn’t sleep after that game.”
The Dons certainly won’t lose any rest over Friday’s down. USF has a heavenly far off past (the Bill Russell-K.C. Jones groups won NCAA titles in 1955 and ’56), however very little late greatness (just a single NCAA Tournament appearance in almost 40 years).
Brilliant referenced the Dons’ last round of last season, a 81-77 misfortune to then-No. 2 Gonzaga in the WCC competition, to act as an illustration of USF drawing near to beating a prestigious program yet falling a bit short until Friday.
“This is the first time in the five years that I’ve been at USF, as an assistant and as the head coach, where we’ve been able to push through in a game like this and finish it,” Golden said.
“I think it will continue to build the belief of the players’ confidence and the belief in the program, that if we can execute what we want to do that we can play with anybody in the country.”
Quickly: Bennett honored the Dons. “They played hard. They were scrappy. You could see that,” the Virginia lead trainer said. … USF went 13-for-28 from 3-direct reach and held the Cavaliers toward 3-for-12 from significant distance. … The Dons likewise got twofold figure scoring from Khalil Shabazz (14 focuses) and Dzmitry Ryuny (10). … USF is off Saturday and completions its stretch in “Bubbleville” by confronting Rhode Island on Sunday.