Bulls pull out 63-54 win at Stetson
DeLAND -- Stan Heath took a gamble Monday night at Stetson, holding out point guard Anthony Collins with the hopes of healing the calf injury that's limited him in the first three weeks of the season.
Without their floor leader, the Bulls found themselves tied with the Hatters with less than four minutes remaining, but got a clutch 8-0 run and pulled out a 63-54 victory before a crowd of 1,063 at the Edmunds Center in their first road game of the season.
"I knew we'd a little bit out of synch, would have to fight for some baskets. I was pleased that our defense came to play," said Heath, whose players got four stops during the 8-0 run.
The Bulls (4-2) got 20 points and nine rebounds from senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, and a huge spark off the bench from guard Jawanza Poland, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Martino Brock, filling in for Collins, had 10 points and seven rebounds, with only two turnovers in 34 minutes; walk-on Mike McCloskey had a career-best 11 minutes running the point, with two assists and no turnovers.
"We knew they were going to make runs. Coach Heath told me as point guard to make sure we stay together the whole time," said Brock, who sat next to Collins on the bench, getting insights from the Bulls sophomore.
The Bulls outrebounded Stetson (2-2) 41-31, improving in a key area where they struggled in the first five games. Stetson played without its top scorer and rebounder, Clearwater's Adam Pegg, who was ejected from the previous game and had to sit out Monday's game. USF's Victor Rudd had just four points and took only three shots, but had nine rebounds to help the rebounding advantage.
Fitzpatrick had four rebounds in the final six minutes, scoring a key three-point play to extend USF's lead to five points during the run.
"He's playing like a senior. He wants it, really wants to win," Heath said. "He's showing great leadership out there, doing whatever it takes to help this team win."
USF returns home to face Georgia on Friday night, and Heath is optimistic Collins will be able to play against the Bulldogs. After Georgia, the Bulls have a game at Oklahoma State on Dec. 5, then have 13 days off during exams, allowing him more time to get back to full strength.
Here's quick video of Poland ...
And here's Brock talking about filling in for Collins. ...