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DePaul holds off Cleveland State to move to 4-1

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An impressive showing down the stretch leads DePaul to a win.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The DePaul Blue Demons are back in the win column. DePaul kept up their winning ways at home, scoring their fourth victory of the season, as they defeated the Cleveland State Vikings 83-73 on Wednesday night.

The Blue Demons scorched the nets on the way to their win. Adamant about not letting the lead slip away, DePaul made five of their last seven field goals to end the game and went on a 6-0 run in the final 36 seconds. They also held firm on the defensive end, too, keeping Cleveland State away on their field goal attempts. The Vikings had gone nearly five minutes without a field goal until the 51 second mark after a layup by Tyree Appleby and made only one of their final seven shots from the floor.

It was an impressive performance down the stretch, no doubt. You definitely like to see that from a team that has, let’s be honest, not always shined over the past few years. The resolve is strong and was certainly evident in this Wednesday night tilt in Lincoln Park.

Especially so when you consider that DePaul and Cleveland State traded blows to start the second half. The Vikings actually led 48-47 at the 14:15 mark. But, an Eli Cain free throw, a 3-pointer, and then a layup +1 from Max Strus swung the game in the Blue Demons’ favor and pushed their lead up to six.

Cleveland State never tied or regained control of the lead from there. The Blue Demons kept them to as close as two points at the 7:34 mark and 4:39 mark. But they were otherwise stifled and stymied.

The leader for DePaul was Eli Cain. The star guard for the Blue Demons had 26 points, a high for both sides on Wednesday night. He got there by going 9-for-14 from the field, 3-for-6 from 3-point land and 5-for-7 from the free thrown line. He may have gotten more, but Cain picked up one too many personal fouls and played 36 minutes.

Also helping the cause was Jalen Coleman-Lands, who scored 15 points for the Blue Demons in the win. Coleman-Lands was helpful down the stretch at the line and made four of his five FT attempts. He also tallied five rebounds on the night and just two turnovers in 34 minutes.

DePaul had five players total get into double figures. Joining the aforementioned Cain and Coleman-Lands were Jaylen Butz (10), Paul Reed (11) and Femi Olujobi (11). Five players in double figures is a season-high for DePaul, eclipsing the four they got in their last game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Strus, meanwhile, had just eight points, but did it all, dishing out seven assists and grabbed eight boards, to boot. He committed only one turnover in 35 minutes.

The Blue Demons picked up the win despite an inefficient night from deep. They shot 5-for-17 from the 3-point line, but were 26-for-39 (.667) on 2-point tries. After all, 48 of those 83 points came in the paint, so they certainly dominated inside.

They shot just 16-for-27 from the FT line, but went 14-for-20 in the second half to help secure the win.

DePaul withstood a pretty standout performance on the perimeter by the Vikings. Cleveland State shot 13-for-31 from deep, good for a mark of 41.9 percent, which certainly pasted their efforts. But they were ineffective inside, going 13-for-30 and shot 42.6 percent from the floor. Couple that with an 8-for-14 day at the free throw line, and you have yourself a recipe for a loss.

The aforementioned Appleby along with Jaalam Hill finished with 15 points each in the loss. Appleby also had a team-high seven assists and five rebounds, second behind Stefan Kenic, who finished with eight. Kenic also had 11 points, one of five Vikings to go into double figures. Kenic, along with Appleby, Hill, Kasheem Thomas (11) and Seth Millner (13) were the ones to get into that threshold.

The next time we see DePaul will be next Monday. They’ll welcome the Florida A&M Rattlers to Wintrust Arena for a nighttime showdown in Chicago.