Despite a second-half surge, led by a career-high 35 points from Laquincy Rideau, USF men's basketball was unable to close out its postseason run with a championship Wednesday night, falling 100-96 in overtime to DePaul in Game 2 of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Finals in Chicago.
The Bulls trailed by as many as 15 points early in the second half then Rideau took control, scoring 16 of the first 19 USF points after the break. The redshirt junior scored 31 points in the second half and overtime combined and was a perfect 7-of-7 from 3-point range in the final 25 minutes.
The only other USF player to score more than one point during Rideau’s run early in the second half was Alexis Yetna, who scored 14 points in the final 20 minutes of regulation. Yetna finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the CBI.
With the score 66-58 around the halfway mark of the second half, USF went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to one possession. USF hung around after the run was over, eventually taking as much as a two-point lead with three minutes remaining before the game was forced into overtime.
DePaul outscored USF 18-14 in overtime, making five of its last six field goals to help it even the best-of-three series.
But before the resurgent second half by USF, things looked pretty bleak for the Bulls.
The night started off well enough. The Bulls jumped out to a 9-4 lead less than three minutes into the game thanks to four points from Alexis Yetna, a 3-pointer from Justin Brown and a pair of free throws by David Collins.
Those free throws would be the last points scored by Collins until a 3-pointer with under five minutes remaining in regulation, a far cry from the 23-point performance Wednesday in Game 1. Collins eventually finished 3-of-16 from the field with 12 points.
DePaul ended the first half on an 11-2 run, but the big blows came from DePaul’s Max Strus, who scored 20 points in the first half alone. Strus was 6-of-8 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. He finished the night with 32 points.
The loss pushes the best-of-three CBI Finals to a winner-take-all Game 3 on Friday night at 7 p.m. in Chicago. The game will be televised on ESPNU.