From last night to tonight, there’s been a plethora of bizarre happenings in the BIG EAST. From Xavier blowing a 25-2 run and ending up in overtime against Butler, only to win, to Georgetown drawing up a frustratingly bad end of game play and give up a 9-0 run to Providence to lose in the final moments, to St. John’s and Shamorie Ponds beating a shorthanded, top ranked Villanova team, Marquette outrebounding and beating Seton Hall, to this.
An outright owning from DePaul in the first half, with Max Strus taking full advantage of his moments without Khyri Thomas living in his shadow, slamming down back to back dunks as his DePaul Blue Demons took a heady step towards victory with the rarified arrangement of the stars on this night.
As Creighton’s offense lagged with TOBY! Hegner failing to cash in his usual three pointers, and the Bluejay bench struggling to pick up any momentum to spell their stars, DePaul relied on threes from Justin Roberts and Eli Cain to push their lead.
Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas had their 10 and 11 respectively, but were the only bright spots in the half as a whole. Otherwise, it was a 36-31 lead for the Blue Demons going into halftime.
The second half turned into a battle of attrition between Creighton’s defense, seemingly in a malaise, struggling to box out on defensive rebounds, and allowing Eli Cain to swoop in time after time, grab an offensive board and get a put back.
Creighton managed to keep pace, however, with some excellent shooting from Ronnie Harrell Jr., some meandering shots from Marcus Foster, but some excellent defense from some kid from Omaha named Khyri Thomas.
Inexplicably, a boost of offensive production came from Manny Suarez and... uh... let’s say Tyler Clement?
Clement, the much maligned, fourth option off the bench at point guard, came off the bench and splashed two consecutive threes, and miraculously got a block. Manny Suarez cashed in on a layup, took haphazard threes, but owned the glass when he was logging minutes.
DePaul couldn’t really fathom what was going on. Of all Dave Leitao’s expertly drawn up plays, he likely didn’t expect something like this to occur. Marin Maric could only do so much offensively, but watching Tyler Clement beat him out for a rebound had to have sunk his confidence quite a bit. Maric hit a shot that bounced and bounded on the iron multiple times before falling in, making it 71-70 Creighton as the drama of the ballgame spiked. Maric was excellent tonight, scoring in droves as the weakness of Creighton’s post showed its true colors.
Marcus Foster answered a DePaul bucket to take the lead with a flashy bucket of his own, making it 73-70. Max Strus responded by missing a three, to which fellow sub-D1 player Manny Suarez remarked, “OK let’s dance baby,” and missed a responding three.
Eli Cain countered on the next possession with a trey of his own, clogging the game up at 73-73. Then, Marin Maric proceeded to bully Hegner in the post and nailed yet another easy lay-in, giving DePaul a 75-73 advantage.
What happened after that was disgusting. After Tyler Clement threw up a three, that clanged off, Toby Hegner seemed to grab a board, only for Maric to rip it away. Khyri Thomas then flew in and stole the ball, drove to the lane where he clearly traveled, then got tied up with Max Strus.
Then, Marcus Foster just nutted up, let a three fly after missing a mid range jumper (that Hegner rebounded) and sank it with 14 seconds left. It was good for his 2,000th career point:
Took this pic this summer. He was dead. Was running down and backs in between 3’s. Hour long workouts drenched in sweat. He put in so much work to get here. Proud of young boy @Swaggy2_ for 2,000 career points. He’s earned every one of them. pic.twitter.com/SPLemC8VHj— Kevin Jewell (@kevin_jewell_11) February 8, 2018
Foster’s greatness occasionally permeates through the clouds and graces observers to remind them that, yes, he does exist and he exists simply to win. Like the BIG EAST Semifinal against Xavier, he finds it within himsef to carry his team to victory. However, he still left an awful a lot of seconds on the clock for an answer.
Plenty of time for Max Strus, right?
Well, he just dribbled around, got the ball stolen from him by TOBY! Hegner, and time slowly, painfully, drained off the clock until it hit zero.