Men's basketball season ends in postseason loss to DePaul

Senior guard Shawn Roundtree makes his way onto the court after a time out against Western Michigan University March 11 in McGuirk Arena.

The Central Michigan men’s basketball team (23-12) saw its season draw to a close in a 100-86 loss to DePaul (16-15) in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.

The Chippewas set the tone early. Junior guard Kevin McKay intercepted a Blue Demon pass and finished the layup himself on the other end, and a possession later, senior guard Larry Austin, Jr. converted another layup.

The lead was eight when junior forward Rob Montgomery Jr. picked off a pass on defense and put a exclamation point on the steal by throwing down a powerful one-handed slam in transition to make it 17-7 in CMU’s favor.

Senior guard Shawn Roundtree Jr. knocked down his third triple of the game with 9:44 to play in the first Chippewas’ lead grew to 28-14 on the shot.

DePaul had no intention of being run out of its own city.

Down 33-21 with 7:25 left in the half, the Blue Demons responded with a lengthy run to end the first half.

DePaul closed the CMU lead to 35-25 on the heels of back-to-back two-handed dunks. Those dunks seemed to spark the energy the Blue Demons needed. 

Over the course of the half’s final six minutes, DePaul outscored the Chippewas, 21-7, to take a 46-42 lead into the break. 

DePaul’s Max Strus dropped 17 points in the first half alone and was the catalyst to the Blue Demons’ streak of hot shooting.

Junior forward David DiLeo buried his fourth 3-pointer of the game to open the second half scoring for CMU, but DePaul quickly reestablished control of the game. 

A layup by DePaul senior guard Eli Cain made it 66-56 Blue Demons with 14 minutes to play.

The Chippewas went on an efficient 7-0 run to cut DePaul’s lead to 66-63 on a steal-and-score layup by McKay, but the Blue Demons gradually extended their lead back to 10 points with 9:26 remaining.

From that point forward, CMU could do nothing to stop the scoring onslaught of DePaul.

The big unknown of the game shifted from which team would win to whether or not the Blue Demons would eclipse the 100-point mark before the final buzzer sounded. A roar went up from the stands as DePaul inches closer to triple digits.

The crowd was appeased.

With 50 seconds remaining, sophomore guard Devin Gage swished two free throws to send the Blue Devils over the threshold. 

The final score was 100-86 in favor of DePaul.

Strus led the charge for the Blue Demons, racking up 33 points and hauling in six rebounds. Cain scored 20 points, Paul Reed had 17, and Gage tallied 14 more.

DiLeo finished with 20 points and five 3-pointers for CMU in the loss. Montgomery added 14 and McKay ended with 12.

In Roundtree’s final game as a Chippewa, the senior leader went 6-of-10 from the field for 16 points and also dished out five assists.

Austin scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, pulled down seven rebounds and had nine assists to cap off his final collegiate game.

The Chippewas end their season with a 23-12 record, while DePaul (16-15) moves on to face Longwood (16-17) on March 25 in a CBI quarterfinal.