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Morris breaks record in season finale

While the Bulls lost their final game of the season, 78-66 against DePaul at home March 6, the game produced one of the Bulls’ few bright spots this season.

Gerrick Morris had six blocked shots, making him USF’s all-time career leader at 263.

The senior center broke Curtis Kitchen’s record of 257 by blocking Quemont Greer’s shot a little more than four minutes into the game.

Less than 15 seconds later, Morris had another block on Delonte Holland.

“Gerrick came out and he quickly said, ‘OK let’s put this shot-block record behind us and get on,'” USF coach Robert McCullum said.

The Bulls were able to do something they had trouble with all year against the Blue Demons — get an early lead.

USF scored the game’s first six points and didn’t fall behind by more than two points until 9:45 into the game when Andre Brown put DePaul ahead 18-15.

Falling behind early plagued the Bulls all year, leading to 15 losses in 16 games, as well as six straight defeats to end the season.

The 2004 Bulls (7-20, 1-15 in C-USA) became the first team in Conference USA history to lose 15 conference games.

While the Bulls kept up the pace with DePaul’s offense early in the game, the USF defense allowed the Blue Demons to 53.8 percent from the field and 46 percent from behind the three-point line.

“I don’t know if I would say this was one of our better efforts,” McCullum said. “That all starts on the defensive end, and we just didn’t defend nearly as well as what we needed to do.”

DePaul, which tied with four other teams as C-USA regular-season co-champs but earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, also showed a difference in talent level, placing all five starters in double figures scoring. The Bulls had three players in double figures — Bradley Mosley (23), Terrence Leather (19), and Morris (12).

USF has had a lack of talent, playing most of the season with just six scholarship players, and starting walk-on Brian Graham.

The Bulls had defections from freshman Sheldon Franklin and sophomore Yusuf Baker before the season started, then senior and 2002-03’s leading scorer Jimmy Baxter, as well as freshman Sam Barber and walk-on Alton Darling. The Bulls were also hit by injuries, as Marlyn Bryant was lost for the season with a torn ACL, and sophomore James Holmes had a stress fracture in his left foot, which forced him to miss most of the season.

After all the defections, the remaining Bulls showed signs of fight, losing only one game by 13 or more points in the final five weeks. That loss was to C-USA tournament champion Cincinnati.

“I am proud of our guys for not quitting and for going out and playing as if we had some postseason opportunities there,” McCullum said. “I wasn’t surprised at that because they have done that up to this point.”