Marcus Foster couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to reach the 2,000-point mark for his career.
Creighton’s senior guard buried a 3-pointer with 14.4 seconds left to erase a two-point deficit and lift Creighton to a 76-75 Big East victory over DePaul on Wednesday night at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Max Strus, DePaul’s leading scorer, was double-teamed on the game’s final possession, and senior center Toby Hegner stripped him 25 feet from the hoop just before the buzzer.
Foster, 29 points shy of 2,000 entering the night, finished with 29 points to pace Creighton (18-6, 8-4). The Bluejays avoided the Big East upsets experienced by top-ranked Villanova and Seton Hall earlier in the night.
Junior guard Khyri Thomas added 18 points for Creighton while junior swingman Ronnie Harrell Jr. posted 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Senior center Marin Maric produced 23 points and seven rebounds as the Northern Illinois graduate transfer controlled the post for DePaul (9-14, 2-9). Junior guard Eli Cain contributed 18 points and six assists, but Strus managed just 11 points as he went 3 of 11 from the field.
DePaul didn’t win the game, but it won the battle to control the tempo. Creighton tried to push the ball at every opportunity while DePaul stayed patient in its half-court offense in order to take advantage of Maric in the post.
After Creighton took a 14-11 lead sparked by Foster’s back-to-back dunks early, DePaul reeled off a 9-0 run triggered by Strus’ back-to-back dunks. The Bluejays crept back within 20-18 on Foster’s third dunk of the opening 10 minutes, but DePaul went on another spree to take a 30-20 lead.
The Blue Demons carried a 36-31 lead into the break as they turned 10 Creighton turnovers into 16 points.
Creighton canned seven shots in a row to transform a 53-48 deficit into a 66-61 lead with 6:46 to go. Foster ignited the Bluejays’ run with a pair of 3-pointers, but Creighton didn’t retake the lead until lightly used senior guard Tyler Clement connected on back-to-back 3-pointers. The 6-foot-2 lefty entered the game averaging 2.5 points per game with six 3-pointers all season.
DePaul answered Creighton with a 12-4 run in the final five minutes. Cain’s 3-pointer knotted things at 73-73 with 1:44 left, then Maric powered his way for the go-ahead dunk with 44 seconds to go.
Creighton got four cracks at the basket on its final possession as the Bluejays earned two offensive rebounds as well as possession after a jump-ball call. After missing a driving layup and a mid-range jumper moments earlier, Foster stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing for the win.
--Field Level Media