USF cruises past Maryland-Eastern Shore, 78-59
TAMPA -- Even before the outcome was clear, USF coach Stan Heath was in mad scientist mode Friday night, experimenting with different looks as he tries to find the best combinations for his team in an easy 78-59 win against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
"I'm just trying to kind of put that puzzle together," Heath said after 10 Bulls played at least 12 minutes, leading by as many 29 points. "I don't totally know some of the new guys, what they can do. I can see the same way (point guard Anthony Collins) is trying to figure out who can catch what passes. There were times we showed great rhythm ... we can play better, but we played good tonight."
Senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick led the Bulls with 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting, and Collins was sharp with 13 points and seven assists against one turnover, still limited by a calf injury. But the most entertaining experiment, especially for an announced Sun Dome crowd of 3,919, was Jordan Omogbehin, the 7-foot-3, 320-pound redshirt freshman center who got his first start and played 12 minutes, scoring six points.
"Big Jordan, he's new and he's so big. He worked so hard over the summer to lose some of that weight," Fitzpatrick said. "To see him get out there and score a couple of baskets, it made me feel good."
Another newcomer, freshman forward Zach LeDay, had eight points and seven rebounds, and he might earn the start tonight against Loyola-Chicago, continuing a stretch of four home games in five days. USF (1-1) led 72-43 late before UMES (0-4) ended the game on a 16-6 run against Bulls reserves.
After being outrebounded in an opening loss to Central Florida, USF held a 45-33 advantage on the boards, and the Bulls were careful with the ball, committing just five turnovers in the first 33 minutes.
"The team is coming along. We're learning ourselves, trying to figure some things out," Heath said. "I thought we showed signs, defensively, of really locking down. ... I saw us moving in the right direction. This weekend, in the early part of your season, you're trying to win games, but you're trying to find out what the best way your team can have success. That's what we need to do."