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Cain is Able: DePaul Beats Georgetown in Closing Seconds

Eli Cain drops a season-high 27 points in the win.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Georgetown Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the magic of WWE Smackdown still in the air at the Capital One Arena, Eli Cain poured in a season-high 27 points to lift the DePaul Blue Demons (9-11, 2-6 Big East) over the Georgetown Hoyas (13-7, 3-6 Big East), 74-73. Cain hit 5-of-8 3-point attempts on the night, making just one less attempt than he had in the team’s previous seven Big East contests. Max Strus added 19 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Marin Maric, who missed DePaul’s previous game with a knee injury, returned to the starting lineup and made an immediate impact, scoring a layup just 11 seconds into the game. On the team’s next possession, Strus corralled an offensive rebound before laying in the putback. That rebound was indicative of how the matchup between the conference’s two best rebounding teams would play out, as the Blue Demons outrebounded the Hoyas 38-27 in the game, including 10-1 on the offensive end.

The first half was an evenly contested affair, with both teams flashing signs of offensive excellence intermixed with defensive lapses. Cain drilled his first 3-pointer six minutes into the game and Maric converted on a layup shortly after to give the Blue Demons a 14-13 lead. But Georgetown battled back, thanks in large part to the contributions of Jamorko Pickett and Jagan Mosely. Mosely scored a layup through contact and made the ensuing free throw to put Georgetown in the driver’s seat with nine minutes remaining. Pickett scored 10 of his career-high 19 points in the first half. Consecutive 3-pointers from Strus and Cain saw DePaul regain the lead, which they would not surrender for the remainder of the half. The lead would balloon to as many as 12 points, but a late 10-2 run from Georgetown cut the lead to 37-33 at the intermission.

The game’s hottest shooters, Cain, Pickett and Strus, each nailed a 3-pointer to open the half. Cain added a layup five minutes into the half to give DePaul its largest lead of the game at 14 points, 54-40. Georgetown responded with an 18-2 run of its own, spurred by Marcus Derrickson’s hot hand. Derrickson scored 11 of the Hoyas’ points and drilled 3-of-3 shots from behind the arc during the run. The run tied the game at 58 apiece midway through the half.

From there, the teams exchanged baskets, with neither able to gain a lead of more than two points for the remainder of the game. Georgetown utilized a small lineup that did not feature their star big man, Jessie Govan, who played just seven minutes in the second half. The lead changed hands eight times and the score was tied on four separate occasions, the last of which occurred at the 2:06 mark. A Mosely turnover led to a missed 3-point attempt from Strus, but Tre’Darius McCallum soared over everyone to tip the rebound in, giving DePaul a 72-70 advantage. The Hoyas responded by calling their final timeout of the game. After the break, Derrickson hit another 3-pointer with 50 seconds left. On the other end, Strus missed a 3-point attempt, but DePaul was awarded possession after a scramble for a loose ball. Then, on his last touch of the game, Cain drove and drilled the go-ahead step-back jumper with eight seconds left. Mosely then dribbled up the court and drove to the paint for a layup attempt, but was unable to convert, giving DePaul its second consecutive victory in the nation’s capital.

DePaul will return to Chicago to host Seton Hall (15-5, 4-3 Big East) on Jan. 28, while Georgetown opens a five-game stretch that features four road games with a trip to Creighton (16-5, 6-3 Big East) on Jan. 27.