Augustus Gilchrist had been South Florida’s top player all season.
Gilchrist had a fine game with 16 points and four rebounds in South Florida’s 70-69 upset of No.10 Villanova in a Big East first-round tournament game on Tuesday.
But it was the heroics of two relatively unknown players in Shaun Noriega and Anthony Crater, who lifted the 15th-seeded Bulls to victory. Noriega hit six three-pointers and had 22 points, while Crater hit two layups in the final 23 seconds to seal the deal.
“Sean’s start and Crater’s finish was an incredible way to cap this one for us,” said South Florida coach Stan Heath, whose team will face Cincinnati in a second-round game on Wednesday.
Noriega scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half.
“He was amazing,” said Heath of Noriega. “I’ve seen it before…He’d a dead-eye guy.”
Noriega lauded his team’s resilience, despite enduring a lackluster season. “It’s been a long season and to come out here and get this and upset Villanova…I feel really good about it,” he said.
As for Crater, who scored off a steal to give South Florida a 68-67 lead and later on a drive to the basket for the winning score, he admitted he was surprised Villanova allowed him those opportunities.
On the last play, he just beat Villanova to the rim for the winning score.
"[On] the last play the screen was designed for me to come off the screen, but the rim was open so I took it," said Crater, who finished with six points.
Was he surprised? "Yes, yes sir.