TAMPA — USF has another home game Wednesday night against Connecticut, but the Bulls celebrated Senior Day on Sunday afternoon against DePaul, and forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick fed off that emotion, scoring 19 as USF ended a 10-game losing streak with an 83-73 win in the Sun Dome.
"This one is definitely special. I had over 20 people on my ticket list today," the King graduate and proud Tampa native said. "Everybody in my family wore black. I don't know if you noticed. We tried to do like a mini-blackout thing. They went hard (Sunday) for me. I got lucky, had a really good game. I was glad I gave them a show."
USF (11-17, 2-14 Big East) led nearly the whole way. DePaul used a 9-0 run to tie it, then took its first lead at 60-58 with 8:10 left. Bulls point guard Anthony Collins took over, scoring eight straight points as part of a 10-0 run, and Victor Rudd went 6-for-6 at the line in the final 43 seconds to seal the win before an announced crowd of 5,383.
"My teammates always tell me to look for my own shot," Collins said. "It feels good to win. We'll try to keep moving, get the win in our last home game on Wednesday and try to keep pushing. You never know what can happen going into the Big East Tournament."
Collins and Rudd finished with 16 points each, and guard Martino Brock added 13, his most in a game since December. Another senior, Jawanza Poland, had 11 points to round out five players in double figures.
Fitzpatrick got nearly half his points in a span of 1:49 early in the second half, hitting three 3-pointers as part of an 11-4 run after DePaul had tied it at 41.
USF avoided having the worst conference record in its Big East history; that will stick with the 2005-06 Bulls, who went 1-15. As the possibility increases that the Bulls are playing their final year in the league, USF will certainly miss DePaul, having beaten the Blue Demons in the past eight meetings.
"You put in a lot of work, and your kids work hard in practice. You try to keep them upbeat, because winning is kind of what it's all about," coach Stan Heath said.
"I'm really proud of our team, that they continued to battle. It looked like DePaul was going to seize control, and our guys … finished strong. … Great team effort all the way around."