DePaul (6-3) lost control of a nine-point lead in the second half Sunday and lost 78-72 at home to Illinois State (5-3). The Blue Demons, who had their best start at 6-1 since the 1993-94 season, have now lost two games in a row.
After DePaul led for most of the first half Sunday, Illinois State took all the momentum into the locker room at the break. Junior guard Justin McCloud, fresh off a career-high six-point performance at UAB, drained a 3-pointer before the halftime buzzer and was fouled by DePaul junior Durrell McDonald.
McCloud made the free throw and gave the Redbirds a three-point advantage at the break. Those would be his only points of the night, as he shot 1-for-8 from the field, all from 3-point land.
Illinois State bumped its lead up to five points early in the second half, but a 13-2 DePaul run the started with a sophomore Tommy Hamilton layup and ended with a triple and dunk by senior Jamee Crockett put the Blue Demons ahead 45-39.
Crockett led DePaul with 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. He is averaging 17 points during the last three games.
The Blue Demons stretched their lead to nine points on sophomore Billy Garrett Jr.‘s layup with 8:16 remaining.
DePaul still held a 66-60 lead entering the final three minutes, but the Blue Demons then did just about everything they could to lose this one. DePaul committed a turnover on four straight possessions, and suddenly Illinois State trailed by only one point at 66-65.
During that same stretch, the Blue Demons also allowed Illinois State sophomore center Reggie Lynch to grab a pair of offensive rebounds and score four second-chance points. Lynch finished with 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his first career double-double.
DePaul junior Myke Henry drilled a triple to quiet the storm, but only momentarily. 28 seconds later, Paris Lee‘s four-point play tied the score 69-69.
After McDonald committed another Blue Demons turnover, Daishon Knight converted an and-one to put the Redbirds ahead 72-69. Illinois State closed out the win with 5-for-6 free throw shooting in the final minute.
Knight led the Redbirds with 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting while freshman forward MiKyle McIntosh was the third member of the team in double figures with 14 points. McIntosh also recorded seven rebounds.
Four Blue Demons — Crockett, Hamilton, Henry and Garrett — reached double figures in scoring.
DePaul looks to end this rough stretch Thursday when the team travels to Oregon State. The Blue Demons hosted Oregon State last year and won 93-81.