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Fitzpatrick strong off bench; USF cruises

It’s almost finals week, and the Bulls have passed most of their on-the-court exams this season.

Wednesday night was merely another, with USF getting a boost from freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who came off the bench and scored a career-high 11 points in 21 minutes as the Bulls beat Hampton 74-55 at the Sun Dome.

“I like Toarlyn,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “He’s got a lot of upside and a good feel for the game. He’s going to be a very valuable player for us come Big East season.”

The Bulls have won four straight and have matched the start of the 2006-07 season with a 7-1 record.

USF used a 9-0 run to start the game and never let up. Junior forward Jarrid Famous led the way with 16 points, only missing two shots on the night. Famous also added 10 rebounds as USF led 35-19 at halftime.

“I think the key for us is to stay focused and that’s not an easy thing to do this time of year,” Heath said.

Senior Chris Howard pitched in 13 points and eight assists and moved into fifth place on USF’s all-time assists list. Freshman Mike Burwell hit two three-pointers and scored seven points in seven minutes.

Along with Burwell, Fitzpatrick gave Heath the bench production he’s needed, as the Bulls have put a lot of stress and minutes on their starting five.

“I can’t let him play like a freshman because we need him,” Heath said. “He had a solid game for us.”

Fitzpatrick had nine points and two blocks in 20 minutes off the bench in USF’s win against Kent State last week. He said he’s becoming more comfortable with the team.

“My confidence is getting better because I’m learning the speed of the game,” he said. “I’m a freshman and I have to accept the role of the guy coming in with fresh legs.”

USF won’t play again until it hosts Central Michigan on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.