Too much Eli Cain and DePaul’s total domination in the paint equaled an easy 85-57 victory over Central Connecticut State on Wednesday at WinTrust Arena in Chicago.
Cain scored 17 points, recorded four assists, grabbed three rebounds and seemed to make a big shot or crucial pass to stifle the Blue Devils at every turn.
The taller and more athletic Blue Demons had their way around the basket as well, outscoring the Blue Devils 46-16 in the paint.
DePaul grabbed 20 offensive boards and had 18 second-chance points. DePaul, led by Jaylen Butz nine boards, outrebounded Central Connecticut 48-27.
The win was the third straight for the Blue Demons (4-4), but it might have been costly as starting point guard Devin Gage left after three minutes with an unspecified injury.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Blue Devils (5-4).
Despite DePaul’s leading scorer Max Strus’ struggles on the offensive end, the game never was in doubt. Once Cain’s layup gave the Blue Demons the lead at 5-4, DePaul rolled.
Tre’Darius McCallum followed with three free throws and a layup, and Cain nailed a jumper to put DePaul up 12-4.
Strus, who was averaging 15.6 points, was held to six points on 3 of 11 from the field.
DePaul took a 39-23 lead into halftime.
The Blue Devils scrapped back to cut the lead to 48-41 at the 12:48 mark on a 3 by Austin Nehls.
But the Blue Demons ripped off a 12-2 run capped by Cain’s no-look, wrap-around pass to Marin Maric for a dunk and 60-43 lead.
Joe Hugley led the Blue Devils with 11 points. Mustafa Jones added 10 points, all in the second half. Tyler Kohl, Central Connecticut’s leading scorer at 14.1 entering the game, was held to seven on 2-for-9 from the field.