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Late surge helps Illinois State beat DePaul 72

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — Daishon Knight felt momentary panic late in Sunday’s game with DePaul before instincts kicked in.

The timing was perfect as the Illinois State guard scored three quick points in a stunning seven-point swing as the Redbirds overtook DePaul on the way to a 78-72 nonconference victory at Allstate Arena.

Knight picked up a deflection on a DePaul inbounds pass, went for a layup and drew a foul with 42 seconds to play. The Redbird guard hit the subsequent free throw to give his team a 73-69 lead to complete a 16-second turnaround.

“We threw the trap on and we ran and jumped it and he (DePaul guard Durrell McDonald) kind of lost it,” Knight said. “At first I didn’t know what to do with it and kind of panicked. (But) I saw the rim and I’m like ‘Why not just lay it up.’ And I did.”

Illinois State abruptly turned the tables with 58 seconds remaining as guard Paris Lee hit a desperation baseline 3-pointer under pressure that bounced and rolled before finally going in.

Lee was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to complete the four-point play and give the Redbirds a 70-69 lead.

“It looked like it was going towards the backboard, so I didn’t think it went in at all,” Lee said. “Then I saw him jump up and he gets to shaking, I turn around and it was a chance for a four-point play.”

The victory capped a rally from a nine-point second-half deficit as the Redbirds (5-3) won their second straight while DePaul (6-3) lost its second consecutive game.

But elation was tempered with the potential loss of Illinois State’s leading scorer, DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, who left the gamer early in the second half with a possible broken right hand. His status was not immediately known.

Knight collected a game-high 25 points — including 16 in the second half — and fell one short of matching a career high. Forward MiKyle McIntosh had 14 while center Reggie Lynch added 13 points and 13 rebounds. Lee closed with nine points.

Forward Jamee Crockett led DePaul with a career-high 22 points, center Tommy Hamilton IV had 13 points and 10 rebounds while forward Myke Henry and guard Billy Garrett had 12 and 10 points, respectively.

“We didn’t take care of it at the end,” said Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell. “We should have been shooting free throws at the end to win the game. It seems like we were up eight or nine and the wheels fell off.”

The teams traded leads seven times in the opening half, the last coming on guard Justin McCloud’s four-point play with two seconds showing as Illinois State opened a 33-30 halftime edge. McCloud was fouled by Durrell McDonald on his 3-point basket.

DePaul went back ahead at 40-39 on Hamilton’s free throw that was part of a 10-1 second half run. The Blue Demons’ lead reached a game-high nine points at 58-49 on Garrett’s layup at the 8:16 mark but didn’t last.

Illinois State now has a three-game winning streak in a series that dates back to 1909 and resumed last year after a 17-year hiatus. DePaul still leads 21-5 and suffered its first home loss to the Redbirds in 13 starts.

NOTES: Illinois State was idle for a full week following an 85-73 overtime victory over Youngstown State on Dec. 7. … The game at Allstate Arena opens a stretch of four games in eight days for the Redbirds. … Head coach Dan Muller was an Illinois State freshman the last time the Redbirds played DePaul in Chicago in 1995. … DePaul was shooting 49.4 percent from the field (209 of 423) entering Sunday, ranked 22nd in the country. … F Myke Henry was averaging 17.6 points per game, good for 72nd nationally. … C Tommy Hamilton IV earned Big East honor roll selection last week after averaging 17.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in a 3-0 week. … DePaul plays at Oregon State on Thursday before heading to Hawaii for a three-game holiday tournament next week.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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