South Florida ‘Bullies' Their Way Past DePaul

Ever hear the phrase ‘a bull going through a china shop'? Well South Florida aptly were the Bull and DePaul was the china shop in today's Big East Tournament first round contest. In a game of huge discrepancies, South Florida was bullish in the paint scoring a whopping 50 of their 58 points in the paint to led them to a 58-49 first round Big East Tournament victory over DePaul.

Six points for South Florida came from the free throw line, while only one bucket came right outside the circle. However, astonishingly enough, for only the second time in Big East play DePaul would out rebound a team, 45-43.

DePaul conversely only scored 20 points in the paint while shooting a miserable 29 percent from the floor and couldn't do enough to overcome the physicality and speed of South Florida.

"We started the game off and played defense at a really high level," said South Florida Coach Stan Heath.

"I thought that helped get us a nice lead. We were really hoping we can stretch that out, but DePaul, give them a lot of credit. They don't quit, they have a lot of fight in them and they kept coming at us. We had to weather the storm a little bit and hold on and get the win."

In the early parts of the first half, South Florida would impose their will and get out on the break and score many points in transition. They wound up running out to a 30-11 lead while DePaul could not muster any buckets shooting only 22 percent in the first half. DePaul would score the next four points to cut the halftime deficit to 30-15.

DePaul would regain some of their lost shooting touch and played more active defense in the second half to allow them to get back in the game.

In the first six and half minutes of the second half, DePaul would cut a 15-point halftime lead for South Florida down to five on a Jeremiah Kelly three-pointer. DePaul had momentum but would quickly relinquish it and let South Florida respond with an 8-0 run to push the lead back to a comfortable 13 points with 9:32 to go.

DePaul would scrap and battle but could only get as close as seven on a Will Walker three-pointer with 1:28 to go. But by then the game was pretty much in the bag for South Florida and they hit enough shots to pull away at the end.

South Florida's Dominique Jones led the way again for the Bulls with 20 points on 8-16 shooting while Mike Mercer added 14 points on 7-13 shooting. South Florida will now face Georgetown in the Second Round of the Big East Tournament.

DePaul's season now has ended with an overall record of 8-22 with many questions surrounding the direction of the program. Athletic Director Jean Lenti-Ponsetto has a decision to make about who will become the next head basketball coach after DePaul fired Jerry Wainwright midway through the season.

Interim head coach Tracy Webster, though, just wanted to praise the hard efforts of the DePaul team who did not quit when down 19 points in the first half.

"The season's over now, but it was a tough game," said Webster after the game. "We have to give South Florida credit. They did a really good job attacking the basket and scoring inside the paint. Again our guys really tried to battle and fight back. You know, every one of those guys, our motto is ‘Never give up. Never quit.' These guys did a great job of not giving up."

Will Walker ended his career at DePaul like many times before, scoring many points (20 points to lead the team) but failing to garner a victory.

"We followed the game plan," explained Walker. "It was a good game plan. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. That's how it always goes."

Whether or not this was the last we saw of Tracy Webster at DePaul we will not know for a while. Webster though, still sees a silver ling in this program.

"I think you always learn from every game," concluded Webster. "I think our guys want to continue to get better. They will continue to get better. There will be some carryover and the guys will do a really good job of improving their game."

We Are DePaul Top Stories