With Eli Cain struggling for most of the night, DePaul had to dig deep. The Blue Demons were able to get clutch baskets from Billy Garrett Jr. and Tre’Darius McCallum to come back and defeat SEMO 81-78 to earn their seventh win of the season.
DePaul’s first half got off to a very shaky start thanks to some early foul trouble for Cain, who picked up two quick fouls. With Cain out of the game, the Blue Demons offense looked out of sync. It certainly was different for them to run offense without their best player this early on in the game.
Usually Billy Garrett Jr. is the one taken out early on in the first half but this time it was Cain and DePaul’s offense failed to adjust. Garret Jr. couldn’t muster anything on the offensive side of the court, scoring five points and shooting just 20 percent from the field. McCallum was the best DePaul player on offense in the first half, picking up eight points and grabbing five boards, both team-highs.
SEMO meanwhile had a rough start to the game as well, scoring just four points until the 10 minute mark of the first half. Then the Redhawks caught fire, especially from deep. They shot 56.3 percent from deep in the first half, hitting nine threes in the process. When you compare that to the mere three hit by DePaul, it was easy to see why SEMO made this not just a tight first half but a half where they held a lead by the half’s end.
3-point shooting was the thing that could give the Redhawks the hope of an upset and shooting well from deep was exactly what they did. Jamaal Calvin was the leading man for SEMO, scoring 17 points and went on to hit all five of his 3-point attempts. Antonius Cleveland added 12 points of his own.
The second half was even more success for the Redhawks as they extended their lead to 10 at the under-16 media timeout. DePaul tried to keep pace but the hot shooting by SEMO kept the Blue Demons at bay. With around 12 minutes left, Garrett Jr. scored a much needed and-one. That 3-point play sparked the Blue Demons, who were able to force a couple of misses and mistakes out of SEMO via the full court press and found easy baskets on the other end of the court. With all the momentum on their side, DePaul was able to knot the game up at 60 with 8:18 left in the game.
SEMO weathered the storm though and kept DePaul from taking too big of a lead. Later, things turned the other way when SEMO went on a quick 8-0 run to extend the lead. Then, Garrett Jr. got another huge and-one for DePaul with a slam plus a foul.
SEMO had an open three in the corner with 35.5 left but it bounced off the rim and Tre’Darius McCallum hit two clutch free throws to essentially ice the game and help DePaul survive.