It hardly seemed like a significant development when Ron Anderson Jr. was whistled for traveling violation with 12:56 remaining in the first half of South Florida's game against No. 14 Georgetown.
But, oh, what a cascade of turnovers it started. There were errant passes by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick at 11:51, Anthony Collins at 11:25 and Jawanzaa Poland at 10:40. When the Bulls actually got a shot off on the next possession, they got the rebound and then lost the ball on a bad pass by Hugh Robertson at 9:46. Then there was a turnover by Victor Rudd Jr. at 8:46.
That's six turnovers in a row by six different players. After three more — by Poland, Anderson and Augustus Gilchrist — the streak of nine consecutive possessions ending in turnovers finally came to an end.
South Florida lost 75-45 to the Hoyas on Saturday, but it can be said that the Bulls literally threw the game away.
"It's been our recipe for lack of success," coach Stan Heath said. "We did the same (last month) against Marquette. We had 22 in that game. When we've had losses, that's typically the magic number that sticks out for us, and today it happened."
Gilchrist scored 15 points to lead the Bulls (13-10, 6-4 Big East), who shot 26 percent in the first half and 31 percent for the game. The big number, though, was 17 — the final turnover tally.
"Today just wasn't our day," Heath said. "I don't know what it was. Early start, late start, I don't know. But it just wasn't our day."
The 11 a.m. tipoff between the Big East's two stingiest defenses was expected to be low-scoring, but South Florida scored only five points in the first 15 minutes. The Bulls went scoreless for nearly 11 minutes while Georgetown pulled ahead with a 14-0 run.
Still, the score was a manageable 23-15 at halftime — but then the Hoyas essentially put the game away with a 16-4 run to the start the second half. A three-point play by Hollis Thompson pushed the lead to 15, and a 3-pointer by Markel Starks got it to 18. A just-for-fun alley-oop dunk by Aaron Bowen accounted the game's final points, making for a 30-point margin of victory.
"The more we couldn't score, the more we got frustrated," Heath said. "And all of a sudden, the avalanche opened up."
Heath also faulted himself for a change in his lineup. Poland started for only the second time this season, but the junior guard went 1 for 7 from the field and committed three turnovers.
"That was a bad decision by the coach," Heath said. "It was just something that kind of happened. He's very capable as a game-changer. When he's on, he's on. And when he's not, he not. And it was just one of those days he just wasn't in rhythm."
Henry Sims had 13 points to lead five Georgetown players in double figures. Otto Porter added 12 points, Jason Clark had 11, and Markel Starks and Jabril Trawick finished with 10 apiece for the Hoyas (18-4, 8-3 Big East), who held a Big East opponent below 50 points for the second straight game.
"We felt we were getting stops, and we knew that the shots would start going in," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "As long as we get stops and rebounds, we'll be able to score enough points."
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP