USF 70, DePAUL 63: Bulls overcome slow start, poor free-throw shooting.
Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 13, 2002
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Altron Jackson had 24 points and Mike Bernard came off the bench to add a career-high 16 Saturday in leading South Florida to a 70-63 victory over DePaul.
After the Bulls went scoreless for nearly four minutes, Jackson took over, scoring 17 in the first-half to help USF (12-3, 3-0 Conference USA) to a 34-26 halftime lead. USF's defense held things in check until Jackson could fuel the offense, forcing 14 first-half turnovers.
"We were only 3-of-11 on free throws in the first half," USF coach Seth Greenberg head. "That should have been a 15-point halftime lead. We opened the game with three breakaways, didn't convert on two of them and missed the free throws on the other. But you need to grind out tough, ugly road wins in Conference USA."
The Bulls were up by as much as 40-28 early in the second half. The Blue Demons (7-7, 0-3) used a 12-2 run to climb within two. The run was capped by an alley-oop dunk by Andre Brown on a pass from Imari Sawyer.
Bernard helped USF pull away, scoring 13 and adding a crucial block that led to a breakaway dunk from Marlyn Bryant to push the Bulls up 64-57 with 3:30 left. Bernard's inside basket and that block followed a Rashon Burno 3-pointer that cut the lead to three.
Bernard has a simple explanation for his breakout game.
"Coach told us to come out and play hard," Bernard said. "So I came out and played hard for him."
"Mike gave us good, solid minutes," Greenberg said. "He attacked, he was aggressive and he got great angles."
The Bulls held DePaul to 26.7 percent shooting on 3-pointers and 34.9 percent overall. They left the Blue Demons looking for both an offensive rhythm and a more effective outside threat than starting guards Sawyer (2-of-6, five points) and Drake Diener (1-of-6, three points).
Greenberg said he expected DePaul to keep it close and was happy to see his team withstand the pressure.
"When you play on the road, you know the home team will make some runs," he said. "And they did.
"Overall, this was a really solid team win. We thought they would play more zone. But when they did play zone, we carved it up pretty good."
B.B. Waldon, the Bulls' second leading scorer, left the game after taking an elbow to his face in the first half. He finished with three points in seven minutes.
Both teams struggled from the free-throw line. South Florida hit 10 of 23 attempts, and DePaul was 15-of-27.
Brown led DePaul with 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Lance Williams added 15 points.
"I think they're just like our team was 10 days ago when we were trying to find our identity," Greenberg said of DePaul.
"You can't coach guys who don't want to be coached. You can be John Wooden, and if guys don't buy in, they're not going to get it. Until guys buy in, you're not going to win. Pat Kennedy is a terrific coach. ... Unfortunately you have guys who think they're better than they are."
Kennedy begged to differ.
"That's easy to say when you're playing a bunch of juniors and seniors (as USF does), and you've got freshmen and sophomores out there (as DePaul does)," he said. "I think Seth is referring to is how kids, coming from high school into college, don't understand the importance of possession by possession. ... And I think people feel they can pressure us."
WHEN/WHERE: 2; Sun Dome, Tampa.
RECORDS: DePaul 9-6, 2-0 C-USA; South Florida 11-4, 1-1.
COACHES: DePaul -- Doug Bruno (271-180, 16th season). USF -- Jose Fernandez (15-28, second season).
KEY PLAYERS: DePaul -- Lenae Williams, F, 6-1 Sr. (22.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg); Jamie Smith, C, 6-4 Jr. (7 ppg, 7.1). South Florida -- Aiya Shepard, SG, 5-7 Jr. (13.9 ppg, 4.7 spg); Sonia Cotton, F, 5-11 Jr. (15.9 ppg, 8 rpg); Alana Tanksley, G, 5-8 Fr. (11.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
NOTES: This is the third of three home games to open the conference season for the Bulls. USF battled Marquette evenly for 36 minutes Friday, but the final four minutes of the first half were the Bulls' undoing in a 70-54 loss. Cotton made 2 of 10 shots. DePaul is coming off a 60-46 win Friday over UAB. It beat Marquette 64-60 in its conference opener Jan. 6. The Bulls knocked off the Blazers 73-64 in their C-USA opener. The Blue Demons won at USF last season 57-46. Shepard had six steals against Marquette and is rounding into form after being hobbled by a sprained ankle for three weeks. The Bulls, who won one C-USA game last season, are looking to surpass that total. Williams is the only Blue Demons player scoring in double figures.
-- PETE YOUNG