TAMPA, Fla. -- Jawanza Poland scored 13 points in his season debut, leading South Florida to a 70-55 victory over Cleveland State on Monday night.
Poland scored all of his points in the second half. The junior guard missed nine games recovering from a back injury before serving a two-game suspension for playing in an unsanctioned summer league.
"Once Jawanza gets going, he's like that heater in the basement," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "He gets hot and starts throwing steam out."
"We didn't come ready to play today, and I didn't feel the passion we normally bring on the road," Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said. "I think that's a key for us. It wasn't our day today."
The Bulls trailed 19-13 midway through the first half, and held the Vikings without a point for the next nine minutes. USF went on a 10-0 run until Anton Grady's dunk put Cleveland State back on the scoreboard.
USF led 25-21 at halftime despite 35.7 percent shooting (10 of 28).
The Bulls hit 65 percent of their shots after the break (13 of 20) in what Heath deemed their best second-half performance of the season.
"I thought the zone really took them out of rhythm and made them stand around a little bit longer," Heath said.
Gilchrist finished three points shy of 1,000 for his career. The senior forward missed all six of his attempts from the floor in the first half and finished 3 of 12 overall.
"In the first half, he was strictly hovering around the perimeter, taking jumping shots and they weren't falling," Heath said.
Gilchrist and Poland scored all but five points in an 18-6 run that put the Bulls ahead 43-33.