The DePaul Blue Demons bounced back from their loss this past Saturday with a 104-70 win over Chicago State.
Max Strus was held under 10 points for the first time this year against Northwestern, but he redeemed himself by scoring 13 of his 27 points (8-for-11 from the field, 5-for-8 from three) in the first half alone. “Max played like he normally plays,” said Coach Dave Leitao. “He found a good rhythm mentally. As I’ve said before, he’s insatiable in his work ethic.”
Strus also became the 21st player in DePaul history to make 100 career three-pointers. It took him less than two years to do so.
When asked about it in the postgame presser, Strus said, “Yeah, it’s alright.” Teammate Eli Cain quickly took credit by chiming in, “You’re welcome.”
Everything went according to plan on a night where all five starters scored in double figures and DePaul tallied eight assists on their first nine field goals. With a 17-16 lead in the first half, Strus and Cain helped the Blue Demons rip off a 16-2 scoring run that put them ahead 33-18 and put them in control for the rest of the game.
“That’s what we should’ve done,” said Strus. “Good effort all-around.”
Eli Cain continues to be a steady force by recording another double-double with 17 points and 11 assists. The senior ball-handler possesses a versatile arsenal of offensive skills. He can drive the ball to the rim off the bounce, he can pull-up and shoot it from anywhere on the court and he has a penchant for finding the open man, particularly Paul Reed who he found for two highlight reel alley-oops tonight to go along with the several other times that has occurred this season.
“If,” said Coach Leitao, “we envisioned at the start of the season what our team would look like, it would have balance. I thought today was an opportunity to play consistently on offense and as one on defense and today we did that.”
Another highlight for the Blue Demons is the quiet development of junior, transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands. Coach said, “(He) had his 3rd straight game in double figures, he’s starting to do a lot of different things better than he was. Playing better defense, rotating the ball better.”
With about 30 seconds left in the game, Coach Leitao and the head coach for Chicago State, Morris Scott, each received double technicals and were ejected from the game. “It wasn’t something I planned,” said Coach Leitao. “One of the guys said something to me and I probably should’ve walked away but I said something back. The ref thought he heard something egregious enough to give double technicals and eject us both.”
When Strus and Cain were asked if they knew what caused the ejections, both simultaneously said “No,” then held a straight face for several seconds before laughing as they walked off the podium.
The Blue Demons return to action against another rival Chicago school when they take on UIC Friday night at the Wintrust Arena at 6:00 p.m. CST.
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