CHICAGO – Zac Cuthbertson led four Chanticleers in double-digits with 21 points, but it was not enough in a close 92-87 loss at DePaul in the semifinals of the Roman College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday night.
The Blue Demons shot 57 percent from the field for the game, including 69 percent in the second half, making it hard for the Chanticleers to keep up. DePaul was also deadly from the free throw line making 22-of-23 from the charity stripe.
DePaul came out in the second half and outscored CCU 16-8 to take a 52-46 lead and went on to lead by as many as 11, but the Chants never went away.
CCU was able to cut the lead to as close as three in the final minutes by knocking down nine three-point field goals in the second half, but was unable to match the shooting of the Blue Demons.
DeVante Jones had another stellar performance, finishing the game with 16 points. He also had a game-high seven assists and tied for game-high honors with two steals.
Fellow freshman Ebrima Dibba contributed 14 points for the Chants, with eight of those coming in the second half. Tyrell Gumbs-Frater came off the bench to contribute 13 points.
Cuthbertson reached a milestone in the game when he made four of his five free throw attempts to give him 175 on the season, making him the all-time single-season leader at CCU in made free throws made.
DePaul had five players score in double-digits with Paul Reed and Max Strus scoring 24 points each. Femi Olujobi scored 18 points while Eli Cain had 12 and Jaylen Butz scored 11.
The bigger Blue Demons took advantage of their size and strength on the inside and it showed by scoring 56 points in the paint compared to 28 for CCU. DePaul also grabbed 36 rebounds to CCU’s 24.
Cuthbertson and Jones led the Chants to a 38-36 halftime lead as the two combined for 27 of the team’s 38 first-half points.
Cuthbertson finished the opening half with 15 points and Jones had 12 as CCU shot 49 percent from the floor. CCU’s defense was able to force 10 turnovers and turn those into 11 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
CCU was able to hold to the lead despite going 4:41 seconds without scoring in the first half.
DePaul shot 50 percent from the field and scored 26 of their points in the paint as they took advantage of their size early and often in the opening half. Reed and Strus each had 10 first-half points to lead the Blue Demons.
The Chanticleers season ends with a 17-17 overall record while DePaul moves into the CBI Championship series with a 14-15 record.