Bulls power past Hatters

Even without its starting point guard, the USF mens basketball team reversed its nonconference road woes from a season ago, for at least one night.

The win over Stetson in Deland was USFs first non-conference road victory since a 64-61 win over Texas Tech on Nov. 27, 2010.

With sophomore Anthony Collins sitting out the mid-week game after a calf injury, the Bulls led by a strong scoring performance from their leading scorer, senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, and another strong rebounding performance snuck past the Stetson Hatters on the road with a 63-54 victory.

The Bulls were rusty early in the game without Collins, struggling to 28 points and a one-point lead at the half with guards junior Martino Brock and senior Mike McCloskey filling in at the position.

Though USF came out stronger in the second half and went on a 7-0 run led by five points from senior guard Jawanza Poland to take a 47-39 lead with 8:59 to go, the Hatters would not go away without a fight.

Stetson went on an 8-0 run of its own to tie the game and force the Bulls to call a timeout with 5:43 remaining, before Fitzpatrick and Poland followed with six combined points in an 8-0 scoring run to help close out the road victory.

After winning the rebounding just once in the first four games of the season, the Bulls had an advantage on the boards for the second consecutive game, outrebounding the Hatters 41-31, led by 10 from Poland, who also provided 19 points off the bench for a double-double including a thunderous dunk with 3:44 remaining in the first half.

Fitzpatrick and Poland tied for the team, leading with 19 points each, and Fitzpatrick chipped in with eight rebounds of his own. The senior leads the team averaging 12.8 points per game.

Collins absence was felt in the flow of the offense, as the team combined for 11 assists in the game, which was the sophomores average per game in the last two games. The Bulls also struggled from behind the three-point line once again, making just five of 20 attempts.

Following the road victory, the Bulls will return home to the Sun Dome on Friday to take on Georgia in the Big East-SEC Challenge at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.