Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Creighton 76, DePaul 75: Foster delivers with 29 points for the Bluejays

Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— Despite six days of rest, the Creighton Bluejays appeared to be on the verge of their second straight loss.

Marcus Foster had other plans as he delivered a three-pointer from the wing with 16 seconds left to highlight a game-high 29 points as the Bluejays (18-6, 8-4 Big East) defeated the DePaul Blue Demons (9-14, 2-9 Big East), 76-75 at Wintrust Arena in front of 5,010 fans at Wintrust Arena.

Foster’s game-clinching shot came with some drama beforehand. After a frantic scramble for possession on the other end, the Bluejays retained off a jump ball and grabbed three offensive rebounds within a 40-second span. On the fourth opportunity, Foster delivered the three-pointer from the wing to put Creighton up for good with 16 seconds left.

“We kept talking in the huddle and would have to stay calm,” Foster said. “Khyri [Thomas] got an offensive rebound and kind of rushed things as it resulted with a jump ball. Coach [McDermott] told us to calm down and play.”

After a timeout called past half court by DePaul with 10.6 seconds left, the words from Creighton coach Greg McDermott translated over to the defense as Max Strus received the inbounds pass, but would be doubled on the perimeter by Toby Hegner and Foster and lost possession of the ball on the right wing with two seconds left as time ran out.

Khyri Thomas finished with 18 points, on 7-of-13 and proved to be an equal to Foster on offense.

The Blue Demons freshmen contributed off the bench in defeat as Justin Roberts scored eight, while Paul Reed grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, to go along with eight points in 19 minutes.

“As the season has transpired, [Reed] has gotten more and more minutes because he stayed the course,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “He has a strong desire to be a good player and puts time and effort in the film and gym rooms. When he has that mindset, then it is only a matter of time. As his career progresses, we think he will be really good for us.”

Foster put his imprints early with a personal 7-0 run, highlighted by a triple and a dunk off a steal to go up 9-5.

Both teams exchanged leads on mini-runs until DePaul went on a 9-0 over 3:05 to go ahead 20-14, which saw Roberts step up off the bench for five points. Roberts’ bench play coupled with hustle plays from Paul Reed on both ends expanded DePaul’s lead to 30-20 with 7:11 left in the first half.

The Blue Demons regressed for the remainder of the half as they missed nine of their last 10 field goals, but hung on to a 36-31 lead after 20 minutes.

The early stages of the second half saw the Bluejays regain the lead at 41-40 for the first time since the 13:37 mark of the first half as Davion Mintz delivered a crisp bounce pass from the wing to a cutting Foster for the slam dunk.

The lead would be short lived as Maric’s layup put DePaul back ahead and would control things until a three-point barrage, highlighted by back-to-back triples from Tyler Clement propelled Creighton once more at 62-59 with 8:04 left. Clement’s play highlighted a bench-led 10-2 run over 2:21 to increase the Bluejays’ lead to 66-61 as they also made seven straight shots from the field.

“It was one of those nights where it was be ready when your number is called,” McDermott said. “Tyler [Clement] brings a calming effect to our team and understands ball movement and spacing better than anyone in our program.”

Things began to heat up in the final two minutes as Eli Cain delivered with a long range make from the wing to even the game at 73. After a miss from Clement on the other end, Marin Maric took advantage in the post with a dunk to take the lead at 75-73.

Foster’s long range make with 16 seconds left put Creighton back on track with the one-point win as DePaul remains on a quest for its first home win in Big East play.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Feb. 10 as the Bluejays host the No. 5-ranked Xavier Musketeers for a 1:30 p.m. tip on FOX, while the Blue Demons travel to Rhode Island to square off with the Providence at 3 p.m. on FS1.

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