Max Strus scored 26 of his 38 points in the second half and drew a pivotal charge in the final minute to lift host DePaul to a 97-89 victory against Longwood in a CBI quarterfinal on Monday night in Chicago.
DePaul (17-15) advanced to the tournament semifinals, and will face an opponent to be determined on Wednesday or Thursday. The CBI bracket is re-seeded after the quarterfinal round.
Strus shot 15-for-21, including 5-for-11 from 3-point range. He displayed strong defense, as well, taking a charge from Longwood’s Shabooty Phillips with the Blue Demons leading 92-89 with 27 seconds left. DePaul closed the game by making five of its final six free-throw attempts.
Paul Reed posted a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds for DePaul, while Jaylen Butz chipped in 12 points.
Phillips scored 18 points to lead the resilient Lancers (16-18), who concluded the first NCAA Division I postseason appearance in program history. Juan Munoz (17), Spencer Franklin (14), JaShaun Smith (11) and Damarion Geter (11) also finished in double figures.
The Blue Demons opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take an 18-point lead, but the Lancers quickly rallied. A Jaylon Wilson 3-pointer brought Longwood to within 60-55 with 13:55 to play.
Strus scored five consecutive points to help DePaul surge ahead by 12, and his dunk with 9:42 to go gave DePaul a 14-point cushion. Still, the Lancers kept charging. After Munoz hit three free throws following a foul beyond the arc, Geter drilled a trey to tie the game at 79 with 4:58 to go.
More heroics from DePaul’s veterans boosted the team down the stretch. Strus’ 3 with 4:32 remaining gave DePaul an 82-79 lead before Strus and Reed hit consecutive baskets to put the Blue Demons ahead 86-82 at the 2:52 mark.
DePaul led by as many as 13 points in the first half and took a 47-36 advantage into the break. The Blue Demons shot 19-for-33 (57.6 percent) in the first 20 minutes behind strong efforts from Reed (14 points) and Strus (12), who combined to connect on 10 of 15 field-goal attempts.
Longwood shot 15-for-33 (45.5 percent) in the first half and collected six steals, but an inability to keep the Blue Demons off the glass in key situations took a toll. DePaul had 14 second-chance points in the first half compared to only two for the Lancers.
—Field Level Media