USF is now unbeaten in three different home venues after it coasted to a 73-43 win over Florida Southern on Wednesday night.
Tough defense and opportunistic offense carried USF (3-0) to its third win in three games at a third different location this week against the Moccasins at the Lakeland Center. The Bulls remained hot from behind the arc, shooting 50 percent for the game, including 4-of-7 in the first half.
Strong defense was also key for coach Stan Heath’s squad, as it limited the Mocs to 26 percent shooting, after they hit just 18 percent of their shots in the first half.
The Bulls also played with a major size advantage. The Mocs’ tallest starters were both 6-foot-6. USF had three players taller in the starting lineup. In all, the Bulls’ five starters were a combined 17 inches taller than Florida Southern’s starters.
“I think their size was a huge reason for our issues,” Florida Southern coach Linc Darner said. “We haven’t played against that kind of size.”
USF used its size to great advantage against its outmanned Division II opponent, with much of the team’s defense coming from its ability to block shots. The Bulls enjoyed a 12-1 edge in shot blocks and a 53-35 rebounding edge.
“It was something we expected coming in,” senior forward Augustus Gilchrist said. “We have more size than them, and I think we wanted to take advantage of that.”
The Bulls’ big men, Gilchrist and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, had their way with the Mocs’ defense, combining for 27 points and 17 rebounds. Gilchrist was a rebound short of his second consecutive double-double, with a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds.
Point guard duo Blake Nash and LaVonte Dority continued to impress, with both putting up six first-half points and Nash finishing second on the team with 13 points.
“We’re starting to see some maturation at the guard,” Heath said. “They are starting to get things going a little bit.”
Dority and Nash weren’t the only ones who made contributions, as three Bulls scored in double figures.
The Bulls now travel for a true road game at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tournament in Uncasville, Conn., where they face the winner of Penn State and No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday. USF returns to play Georgia Southern at the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday at 7 p.m.