TAMPA - USF found itself in a tie game with Stetson
late in Monday's second half and the Bulls used a strong team effort to make
their first road trip a success.
Martino Brock provided the go-ahead layup with 4:06 remaining and
USF went on a 16-7 run to get past the Hatters, 63-54, at the Edmunds Center in
DeLand, Fla. All of that was accomplished without star point guard Anthony
Collins, who was resting a calf muscle that's been bothering him since the
start of the season.
A relentless defense also played a key factor in USF getting to
4-2 before the Bulls face SEC foe Georgia on Friday night. Stetson (2-2) shot
38 percent from the field and the Bulls held the Hatters 28 points below their
season average. USF has held 16 of its past 19 opponents to 60 points or fewer
dating back to last season.
"I expected a tight game. Playing without Anthony Collins, I knew
we'd be a little out of sync," head coach Stan Heath said. "I was pleased our
defense came to play. When we needed a stop, we made a stop and had some
rebounds on the defensive end."
The Bulls' defense really clamped down on Stetson late while the
offense got rolling after Brock's go-ahead bucket. Kore White followed with a
tip-in, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick added a layup and five straight points from Jawanza
Poland put USF well on its way to a winning streak.
Fitzpatrick finished with a game-high 20 points, Brock added 10
and Poland recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
"They were just better than us in the last three minutes. That's
all it comes down to," Stetson head coach Casey Alexander said.
USF heads home to the Sun Dome to prepare for Friday's 7 p.m. game
against the Bulldogs that's part of the Big East-SEC Challenge. The game will
be televised nationally on ESPNU.