Sweep: Bulls beat DePaul again, 70-61
TAMPA -- Dominique Jones and Gus Gilchrist had double-doubles Tuesday night and USF pulled off a rare double of its own, beating DePaul for the second time in 10 days with a 70-61 win in the Sun Dome.
"It's hard to beat a team twice," said Jones, who had a game-high 26 point and 10 rebounds, along with a game-high six assists.
USF used the same recipe that worked in Chicago 10 days earlier, dominating with rebounds. Gilchrist added 16 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double, and the Bulls outrebounded the Blue Demons 48-28, including 21 offensive boards.
"Twenty-one offensive rebounds, that's the story of the game," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright, whose team was outrebounded by 18 in the first loss. "They beat us up on the glass. ... We were outphysicaled especially them on the offensive end. I believe there were five straight possessions where they got a second possession or a putback, right when the game was close."
The Bulls (7-11, 2-4), who haven't won more than three league games in their previous three seasons in the Big East, now have two victories, both against DePaul (8-11, 0-6), just a third of the way into the conference season.
The Bulls won without their second-leading scorer, senior guard Jesus Verdejo, who suffered a concussion in a collision in USF's loss Saturday at West Virginia.
In his absence, Gilchrist has emerged as a scoring threat, coming through with two six-point bursts in the second half. The second gave USF the lead for good, with a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down for a 57-56 lead with 6:52 to play, then a 3-point play on the next possession. The Bulls led the rest of the way.
"Those two back-to-back plays, I thought that was a key stretch right there," coach Stan Heath said. "It gave us some momentum and I think we held onto it from there on."
Ten days earlier, USF had handed the Blue Demons an 80-58 loss in Chicago, with four Bulls scoring in double figures. It was just USF's second road win in four seasons of Big East play, and DePaul came into Tuesday's game as one of just three Big East teams without a conference win.
Jones, getting his fourth straight game with at least 22 points, had USF's first 10 points in the opening six minutes. USF used a 14-0 run to take a 35-22 lead with 1:47 left in the first half, but DePaul scored the last five points of the half, then came out hot. DePaul opened the second half on a 14-2 run, leading 42-37 before the Bulls scored five straight to tie the game.
The two teams traded rallies, and a 10-0 run by USF, including six straight points from Gilchrist, put USF up 52-47. DePaul countered with a 9-2 run to lead 56-54, then USF got six straight points from Gilchrist again and never looked back.
"We're so close in a lot of ways," said Heath, whose team has two league losses by five points or less. "There's a talent gap that we don't have, but we're still finding ways to position ourselves to win, and it was good to see us finish tonight."
USF stays at home for its next game, playing host to No. 20 Villanova (14-3, 2-2) on Saturday afternoon. Heath said he expects Verdejo to play.