Bulls’ 22nd straight Big East road loss is nation’s longest streak

USF 61, DePaul 69

The longest conference road-losing streak in the NCAA belongs to the USF men’s basketball team. USF is 0-22 in Big East Conference road games since joining the league in 2005.

The Bulls (10-14, 1-10) led for the first 31 minutes of Saturday’s game at DePaul (10-13, 5-6), but could not hold the lead down the stretch. The 69-61 loss is the Bulls’ 10th consecutive defeat.

As in their previous three games, the Bulls jumped out to an early double-digit lead. The Bulls led by as many as 16 points in the early game, holding a 29-13 advantage with fewer than four minutes remaining in the first half.

The quick start was due in part to junior guard Jesus Verdejo scoring eight first-half points for the Bulls. Freshman guard Dominique Jones shot 3-of-4 in the first half, with all shot attempts coming from behind the three-point arc.

Senior center Kentrell Gransberry – who scored 26 points and pulled down an Allstate Arena-record 23 rebounds against DePaul last season – scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes of the game.

DePaul went on an 8-3 run to end the first half, but USF held a 32-21 lead at halftime.

Once again the Bulls could not get any help from their reserves to allow starters to rest. The Bulls had zero points scored by bench players in the first half, and only five points came from reserves over the course of the game.

USF also allowed the Blue Demons to go on an early second-half run. DePaul started the half with a 14-4 run that cut the Bulls’ lead to just two points.

Though USF kept the game close, the Blue Demons took their first lead of the game with 8:44 remaining in the second half. Once taking the lead – which grew to as many as 11 points – DePaul did not relinquish it.

“Two different games. First half, exactly what we wanted,” USF coach Stan Heath said in a press release. “Offensively, I thought they were a little off their rhythm with the zone we threw out there. But whatever (DePaul coach) Jerry (Wainwright) told them in the second half worked. Once they got a little momentum going, we couldn’t put out the fire.”

Their 10th straight loss has all but assured USF that it will be watching the Big East Tournament from home for the third straight year.

“For whatever reason, we’re trying to learn how to win,” Heath said. “We’re trying to learn how to play for 40 minutes, trying to get that key defensive stop, trying to get that key defensive rebound when we need it. We need to figure out what’s working for us.”