TAMPA - The stars aligned for the Bulls on Senior Day at the Sun
Anthony Collins broke up a tie game with eight straight
points late in the second half and USF held off DePaul, 83-73, to snap a
10-game losing streak Sunday afternoon.
"Winning is what it's all about. It makes you feel good and I'm
really proud of our team. They continue to battle," said head coach Stan Heath
after his Bulls extended their win streak over DePaul to eight games.
Senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick tied a career high with five
3-pointers and his game-high 19 points led four other Bulls in double figures.
Collins and Victor Rudd each scored 16 points while Martino Brock added 13
points and senior Jawanza Poland finish with 11 more for USF (11-17, 2-14).
"It was good to see Fitzpatrick have a Senior Day this way
with a win and a terrific performance all the way around," Heath said.
Both teams combined to start the game 0-for-11 from the
field before the Bulls heated up. Rudd hit a 3-pointer nearly four minutes in
and Fitzpatrick scored five points to power a 14-6 run.
A Poland 3-pointer gave USF a 23-13 advantage before DePaul
went on a 7-0 run to force a USF timeout. The Bulls responded with a 10-2 run
that featured another 3-pointer from Fitzpatrick, who had eight points at the
Rudd was up to 10 points when the Bulls headed into the
locker room with a 37-33 lead that marked USF's highest first half total since
a 43-point start against Bradley on Nov. 20.
"I thought the guys really played together out there. They
were unselfish and took good shots," Heath said. "We had good balance and that
was the best we've played offensively in a long time by far."
The Blue Demons tied things up at 41 shortly after the break
before USF responded with a 12-4 run that included three more 3-pointers from
"I was just playing with a lot of confidence," Fitzpatrick
said. "I had a lot of family that was here watching. Every time I shot the ball
I just felt like it was going in."
A 9-0 run by DePaul tied the game back up at 56 and Jamee
Crockett gave the Blue Demons their first lead with a pair of free throws with
8:13 remaining. A Poland jumper got USF back to even ground and eight straight points
from Collins gave the Bulls a 70-62 lead under the five-minute mark.
Aside from giving USF the go-ahead boost, Collins finished
with four assists and tied Dominique Jones for 10th on the Bulls'
all-time list with 328.
"Collins was fantastic, especially at that critical time. He
was able to get into the lane, freeze some people and put up some big shots,"
Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young each scored 18 points for
the Blue Demons (11-18, 2-13). Melvin became the 13th player in
DePaul history to reach 1,400 career points.
The Bulls finish up the home portion of their schedule 9
p.m. Wednesday when UConn visits the Sun Dome. USF finishes its regular season
at Cincinnati on Saturday, March 9 at 4 p.m.
"Now we're just going to try to keep moving," Collins said. "We
want to win our last home game on Wednesday and keep pushing. You never know
what can happen going into the Big East tournament."