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By Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange December 22, 2013 7:31 PM
NORMAL, Ill. -- Guard Daishon Knight scored 16 points while guard Zach Lofton added 14 as Illinois State held off a late DePaul rally to claim a 69-64 non-conference victory on Sunday at Redbird Arena. DePaul (7-5) rallied from a late eight-point deficit and trimmed Illinois State's lead to 66-64 following Billy Garrett's 3-pointer and forward Greg Sequele's free throw with 1:45 showing. DePaul guard Charles McKinney stole an inbound pass with 40 seconds left in regulation, but Illinois State guard Paris Lee grabbed the ball back from Garrett and Illinois State regained possession with 17 seconds left. Knight was then fouled as he brought the ball downcourt and hit the second of two free throws for a 67-64 Illinois State lead. Brandon Young's 3-point try with two seconds showing went off the rim. Redbirds center Bobby Hunter closed the scoring with two free throws. Guard Nick Zeisloft added 11 points for Illinois State (7-5), which shot just 31.3 percent (20-of-64) from the field but hit 24-of-30 free throws. Garrett had a game-high 18 points, guard Brandon Young had 17 and guard Durrell McDonald added 11 as DePaul had a three-game winning streak snapped. The game was the first between the in-state rivals in 17 years and only the second match ever between the two teams at Redbird Arena. DePaul still leads the all-time series 21-4 and is 8-3 in Normal. The first half featured two lead changes and six ties. Young's 3-pointer with 29 seconds left forced a 34-34 deadlock, but Zeisloft replied with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 37-34 Redbird halftime lead. He collected a team-high nine first-half points. Young had a game-high 10 first-half points and two of DePaul's four first-half 3 pointers. Forward Cleveland Melvin, who had a season-high 28 points last Wednesday against Houston Baptist, managed just two first-half points. The Redbirds, who average eight 3-pointers a game, were just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc for the opening half while hitting 11-of-14 free throw tries. DePaul opened a 47-40 lead early in the second half, thanks, in part, to an 11-0 run over a nearly four-minute span that included six points from Garrett. But the Redbirds chipped away and reclaimed the lead at 56-55 on Knight's 3-pointer with 8:13 left. By the 3:14 mark Illinois State made the eighth of eight straight free throws for a 66-58 advantage, its largest lead of the game. DePaul's Melvin fouled out with 3:14 to play, having scored just four points. The Blue Demons close December and their non-conference season on Friday at Northwestern, and they open Big East play on Dec. 31 at Georgetown. Illinois State is idle until opening Missouri Valley play on Jan. 2 at Missouri State. NOTES: G Daishon Knight led the Redbirds with a 14.5-point average coming into the game and has made a 3-pointer in all 12 games this season. ... Coming in, Illinois State led the Missouri Valley and was 85th nationally in 3-pointers per game with eight. The Redbirds were 5-for-26 on Sunday. ... The hosts had just 2 1/2 years of previous Division I experience among three returnees and have the least returning experience of any Division I program. ... DePaul entered Sunday with six straight non-conference road victories. Its last non-conference loss away from home was a 73-51 decision at Indiana State on Dec. 8, 2010. ... Brandon Young needed just six points to pass Terry Davis and is now ninth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,546 points. ... F Jamee Crocket missed his fourth straight game with an ankle injury and remains day-to-day.