ROSEMONT, Ill. — USF finally found a way to finish.
The Bulls withstood a furious second-half DePaul comeback to claim their first Big East road win of the season, 86-76 Saturday at Allstate Arena.
Forward Augustus Gilchrist had a career-high 32 points, including a season-high 20 in the first half as the Bulls halted a six-game losing streak.
USF (9-20, 3-13 Big East) never trailed after the midpoint of the first half but had nervous moments in the second. DePaul (7-21, 1-15) used fullcourt pressure to unnerve the visitors and rally from 14 points down to within 63-61 with nine minutes to play.
"In a lot of our close games we haven't been able to finish," Gilchrist said. " 'Let's come together,' and that's what we did."
The Bulls broke the Blue Demons' pressure then used superior height to regain command.
"Once we handled the initial part of the press, (we) attacked and scored," coach Stan Heath said. "That's what allowed us to shoot such a high percentage, especially in the second half."
USF was 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) from the field in the final 20 minutes, including eight baskets in the paint and just one outside.
For the game, Gilchrist had seven baskets underneath and missed just two.
"Gilchrist, offensively, was very efficient and very effective scoring for us in both halves," Heath said. "If he starts off pretty good, he can be very effective. He has the ability to score around the basket, face up and (also) hit 3s. So he has a lot of firepower to his game, and our guys did a good job of finding him. They knew he was hot."
The lead changed four times early before the Bulls went ahead for good on a Gilchrist layup with 13 minutes left in the first half. USF then outscored DePaul 12-2 over the final 3:40 to take a 41-28 lead into intermission.
Gilchrist, whose previous high was 27 against Florida Atlantic in 2009, was 9-of-14 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and made 13 of 15 free throws. Jarrid Famous came off the bench to score 15, Shaun Noriega had 14 and Hugh Robertson added 12.
Ron Anderson had 10 rebounds as the Bulls won the battle of the boards, 33-19.
DePaul was missing leading scorer Cleveland Melvin, out with a thumb injury. Freshman guard Brandon Young led the hosts with 23 points.
USF had lost all seven of its Big East road games going in (its last conference road win was March 9, also against DePaul). The Blue Demons fell to 0-8 in conference home games.