USF ATHLETICS GoUSFBulls.com
CHICAGO, APRIL 5, 2019 – USF’s magical second season under head coach Brian Gregory ended with Bulls hoisting the 2019 College Basketball Invitational trophy after defeating DePaul, 77-65, in Friday’s championship game.
USF (24-14) showed its toughness once last time by withstanding a furious comeback by DePaul (19-17) to take the best-of-three series on the road. Despite seeing an early 17-point lead dip down to one, the Bulls responded in a big way after the break to capture the second postseason tournament title in program history.
Gregory’s Bulls completed the top turnaround in the NCAA this season, winning 14 more games than in 2017-18, and accomplished the feat by getting contributions from 12 different players.
In fitting fashion, David Collins led the way with a game-high 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The star sophomore guard from Youngstown, Ohio was named tournament MVP after averaging 18.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.2 steals per game in USF’s six CBI outings, including five victories.
Sophomore Justin Brown (Birmingham, Ala.) scored 10 of his 12 total points in the first half to help USF seize the early momentum. The Bulls sank 10 three-pointers and two were made by redshirt junior Laquincy Rideau (West Palm Beach, Fla.), who finished with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and a team-leading three steals.
USF also got eight points apiece from forwards Alexis Yetna (Paris) and Michael Durr (Atlanta) along with senior guard T.J. Lang (Mobile, Ala.).
The Bulls had their eyes on the prize from the start, knocking down six three-pointers in the first 11 minutes on the way to building a 37-20 lead. DePaul roared back into the game with a 14-2 run in the final 6:12 of the half to cut USF’s advantage down to 39-34 by the break.
USF’s lead shrank to a point a few minutes into the second half before a Rideau three gave the Bulls an eight-point cushion with 13:12 remaining. Back-to-back buckets from long range by Lang and Yetna got the advantage back up to 10 with less than 10 minutes to play.
In his final collegiate game, Lang continued to step up in a big moment with a jumper that sparked an important 8-0 run for the Bulls. Collins made a three-pointer in traffic to stun the crowd and his free throw later in the run put USF up by 14 with less than five minutes to go.
DePaul didn’t get within singles digits until Max Strus’ free throws with 1:06 left on the clock. USF closed in strong fashion with a 6-2 run to win the program’s first postseason tournament since the 1990 Sun Belt Tournament.
Head coach Brian Gregory on the championship victory and the Bulls’ continuing to build program momentum:
“Talk about the grit and the toughness of our team and our program, and what we want to build it on. It’s a great stepping stone for where we want to get to. I’m really excited about all the great fans that were here in Chicago to watch it. When you’ve got Laquincy, and you’ve got David Collins, and you’ve got AlexisYetna, you can win a lot of games. We’re going to get even better, I promise you.”
Gregory on USF getting contributions from 12 different players in the program’s 24th win of the season:
“We got basketball from everybody. To win a championship, it takes more than one or two guys and that’s what we got tonight.”
18-2 – USF’s record this season when leading at the half.
24 – The Bulls finished the season with a program record 24 wins.
59.1 – The shooting percentage in the second half by USF, which made 48.3 percent of its field goal attempts overall.
- The Bulls finished the season with 14 more victories than they did in 2017-18, which is the best win improvement in the NCAA for 2018-19.
- USF captured the second postseason tournament title in program history. The Bulls won the Sun Belt tournament in 1990.
- USF won five postseason tournament games in the same season for the first time in school history.
- Brian Gregory grabbed sole possession of seventh place on USF’s all-time coaching wins list with his 34th victory in only his second season with the program.
- Tournament MVP David Collins finished his sophomore campaign with 587 points, which tied him for sixth with Altron Jackson (2000-01) on USF’s single-season scoring list.
- Laquincy Rideau finished his first run with the Bulls as the program’s single-season steals leader with 101. That total also is an American Athletic Conference record. He is one of only three players in the NCAA this season with 100 assists and 100 steals.
- Alexis Yetna’s USF freshman season-leading 346 rebounds rank second on USF’s all-time season chart. Yetna’s 443 points this season are the fourth-most in program freshman season scoring history.
About USF Men’s Basketball
The USF men’s basketball team is led by head coach Brian Gregory. On March 22, 2017, Gregory was introduced as the 10th head coach in program history. He previously led programs at Georgia Tech (2011-16) and Dayton (2003-11). Gregory spent nearly a decade as an assistant coach under Michigan State’s Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo and helped the Spartans win the 2000 NCAA National Championship. Gregory brings nearly 250 career head coaching wins and six postseason appearances, including the 2010 NIT Championship, to Tampa. In his first season at the helm of the Bulls, Gregory led the team to its first 10-plus win season since 2013-14.
USF has retired three numbers in its 47-year history: Chucky Atkins (12), Charlie Bradley (30) and Radenko Dobras (31). The Bulls have earned three NCAA tournament bids and appeared in the NIT eight times.
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