Max Strus scored 32 points and Paul Reed added a double-double of 28 points and 16 rebounds to lift host DePaul to a 100-96 overtime victory against South Florida in Chicago on Wednesday night, tying the best-of-three College Basketball Invitational championship series at one game apiece.
The Blue Demons (19-16) will host the decisive third game on Friday night.
Reed hit a pair of free throws with 2:53 remaining in overtime to give the Blue Demons a 90-85 lead. A Laquincy Rideau trey on South Florida’s next possession brought the visitors within 90-88, but DePaul answered with successive layups from Flynn Cameron and Lyrik Shreiner to seize control. South Florida came within three points with nine seconds left but was unable to get closer.
Reed drained a 3-pointer with 1:51 remaining in regulation to snap a 79-all tie. The Bulls missed their next four shots before Alexis Yetna tied the game with a trey with 28 seconds left. The Blue Demons played for the last shot of regulation but were unable to score, as Strus lost the ball under pressure just before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
South Florida (23-14) had four players in double figures. Rideau led the way with 35 points, while Yetna (26), Justin Brown (13) and David Collins (12) followed. Yetna snagged 13 rebounds and Michael Durr had 11 as South Florida won the battle under the boards 43-38.
Femi Olujobi added 14 points for DePaul, which led by as many as 15 early in the second half.
The Blue Demons won despite missing starting senior guard Eli Cain for part of the game. Cain suffered an apparent wrist injury after falling awkwardly upon being fouled with 7:46 remaining and did not return. He scored two points on 1-for-4 shooting after leading DePaul with 19 points in the championship series opener. The Blue Demons also were without sophomore guard Devin Gage, who remains in the concussion protocol after suffering a head injury in the quarterfinals.
DePaul surged to a 46-35 lead at halftime behind hot shooting from Strus, whose 20 first-half points included a 6-for-8 effort from beyond the 3-point arc. The Blue Demons shot 46.9 percent (15-for-32) in the first half while hitting all 10 of their attempts from the free-throw line.
South Florida edged DePaul 63-61 in Monday’s CBI championship series opener in Tampa, as Collins swished a floating, go-ahead jumper with two seconds to play to earn the victory. The Blue Demons rallied after scoring a season-low 25 points in the first half, but were unable to complete the comeback.
—Field Level Media