Bulls snap losing streak on Senior Day
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 00:03
The crowd was roaring on Sunday as the clock hit all zeros and USF senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick held on to the ball to secure the Bulls first win in over a month to snap a ten-game losing streak.
“We almost forgot what it felt like to get a win,” Fitzpatrick said.
Sunday was Senior Day for USF, and the Bulls seemed to ride the energy to an 83-73 win over DePaul.
“Winning is what it’s all about. it makes you feel good,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “We finished strong and that’s all we’ve been preaching.”
The win over the Blue Demons made for USF’s eighth straight win against DePual with the all time record at 16-11, DePaul still leading the series.
Fitzpatrick said he made sure to put his heart on the hardwood in the afternoon matchup against a DePaul team that was sitting at second to last in the Big East.
He had more than 20 friends and family members in the crowd to witness his senior day performance and the team’s win as Fitzpatrick’s fan section sported all black to make for what Fitzpartick referred to as a “mini-blackout.”
“Of course I wanted to play well,” Fitzpatrick said. “But at the same time I approached the game the same way, it just so happen that I had a good game on this day.”
As a senior and Tampa native, Fitzpatrick helped the Bulls earn the win leading USF in both points and rebounds with 19 and 8 respectively. He even boosted the Bulls’ play from beyond the arch, tying a career high in three-pointers with five on the day out of his eight attempted.
“I knew it was very important for him,” Heath said. “It’s not just Senior USF day, its Senior Day in the community in the city of Tampa.”
Even fellow senior, guard Jawanza Poland, scored into double-digits for his 11-point performance.
But the younger teammates helped send the seniors off with a win as well.
USF sophomore guard Anthony Collins came up big for the Bulls late in the game, changing his role as a facilitator to a scoring machine.
After DePaul snagged its first lead of the game with 8:10 to go in the second half up 60-58, it was Collins that decided to switch gears.
“One day I’m going to be a senior and I would like to end it on a good note,” Collins said. “I thought it would only be right to end today with a win.”
The Bulls went on a 12-2 run to regain both the lead and momentum as they rode the energy coming from Collins, who scored 10 of his total 16 points on that run with 4:26 left on the clock.
“Collins was fantastic, especially at that critical time,” Heath said.
USF junior forward Victor Rudd, who matched Collins’ total of 16 points, drained six straight free throws to end the game.
While the free throws to end it were Rudd’s only points of the second half, it was Rudd who helped the Bulls to a lead in the first place with strong play to start things off.
Rudd, who put up 10 points in the first half alone, got the first points of the game, hitting a three-pointer four minutes into the game. After Rudd’s shot, USF went on a 14-6 run.
USF, in front of 5,383 screaming fans, started to spark early on, yet lost the spark when DePaul started to get back into the game, coming within five points with about seven minutes left until halftime.
Though the Bulls looked as if they were reverting back to the way they’ve been playing for over a month, USF managed to hold a four point lead at halftime, DePaul trailing 37-33.
As USF had five players score into double digits, something they haven’t done all year, it was clear that the game meant a lot to the players — especially Fitzpatrick.
“I’ve seen guys have fantastic senior days, and I’ve seen guys so tight that it just never happens,” Heath said. “It’s good to see him have a good Senior Day with a win and a terrific performance all the way around.”
The Bulls have two more games left in the season, the last home game being against Connecticut on Wednesday at 9 p.m..