USF Beats DePaul In Opener

By Landon Stolar, NEW YORK — Madison Square Garden; it’s the biggest stage with the brightest lights, and it’s where the 2010 Big East Tournament kicked off on Tuesday. South Florida (9) got the tourney going by knocking off Big East bottom-dweller DePaul (16) 58-49. The win marks the first ever Big East Tournament victory for the program. “Good win for our program,” South Florida Head Coach Stan Heath said. “We’ve never been here before. So in a lot of ways, I think we’ve accomplished things we’ve never accomplished before.” The Blue Demons were slow to take in the atmosphere inside Madison Square Garden as it was the Bulls that got off to the fast start, running out to a quick 8-2 lead. Despite a late Blue Demon rally, the Bulls survive to play another day. “We were really hoping we could stretch that [lead] out,” Heath said. “Maybe rest some guys toward the end. But DePaul, give them credit, they got a lot of fight in them.” South Florida’s defense was very strong, especially early. DePaul failed to reach double digits until the 5 minute mark of the first half and the Bulls held the Blue Demons to a measly 15 points in the first half on just 23 percent shooting. “I loved the way we started the game off,” Heath said. “I thought we played defense at a really high level and took away some really good players, [Mac] Koshwal, with the double teams.” Dominique Jones proved why he’s the conference’s scoring champion. The junior tallied 14 points in the first have alone, on his way to a 20 point, nine rebound outing. Jones owns a 23.2 scoring average in conference play this season. “I think the team feeds off what I do positively and negatively,” Jones said. “And I think that I turned it up and when I turned it up, everybody everybody else turned it up.” South Florida extends its winning streak to four games. The Bulls are now 20-11; it’s just the third 20 win season in school history. South Florida will play Georgetown (8) in the second round of the tournament tomorrow at noon.