TAMPA – Despite losing both Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd to injury in the second half, the USF Bulls came away with a 61-57 win over the George Mason Patriots at the Sundome on Saturday night.
The Bulls (8-3) were already playing shorthanded, as they were without Shaun Noriega, Kore White, and Javontae Hawkins.
It was a scary moment midway through the second half, as Collins sustained a neck injury while trying for a loose ball. Collins did have movement in his arms and legs before being carried off the court on a stretcher, and was scheduled for further tests on Saturday night.
The Bulls then lost Rudd to injury with less than a minute play, as the junior forward suffered a concussion.
The game got off to a slow start, as the Bulls opened 0-for-3 from the floor and 0-for-3 from the line, and the teams were scoreless a minute and a half in.
The match-up featured 10 lead changes early before USF’s brief 5-0 run put the Bulls up 17-12 with 4:21 left in the half. The Patriots (7-5) closed the gap and pulled even on a Paris Bennett jumper with 1:06 to go, and entered the half knotted up at 22.
USF shot 33.3% from the field before the break, and just 1-of-8 from the free throw line.
George Mason grabbed the first bucket after the half to regain the lead, but USF exploded for a 12-0 run highlighted by a dunk from Rudd to make it 32-24 USF.
A contested three from Musa Abdul-Aleem gave USF a 12 point lead, its largest of the game, with 8:17 remaining, but the Patriots began to chip away. After the teams traded baskets, George Mason went on a 10-3 run – all 10 of those points came courtesy of Sherrod Wright.
The Patriots made it a two-point game with just 33 seconds remaining. Jawanza Poland was then fouled and came through at the line, nailing both free throws to again make it a two-possession game.
Poland finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the charge for the Bulls. Martino Brock posted 14 points while Abdul-Aleem finished with 11.
Wright would wind up with a game-high 24 points for George Mason, shooting 9-of-19 from the floor.
The Bulls will hit the court again on Wednesday as they travel to Orlando for a battle with UCF at 8 p.m.