David Collins scored a game-high 23 points, including a go-ahead jump shot with 2 seconds remaining, and South Florida held on for a 63-61 win over DePaul in the College Basketball Invitational on Monday night in Tampa, Fla.
The Bulls grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three tournament championship series. They have an opportunity to clinch the title with a win in Game 2 on Wednesday night in Chicago.
Laquincy Rideau added 15 points for South Florida (23-13), which staved off a late comeback bid by DePaul. Alexis Yetna contributed 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Bulls.
Eli Cain scored 19 points to lead DePaul (18-16). Max Strus (17 points) and Femi Olujobi (11) also scored in double digits, and Paul Reed grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with seven points.
Cain made a 3-pointer to even the score at 61 with 11 seconds left.
Collins hit a floating jumper on the next possession to seal the victory.
DePaul grabbed a 54-53 lead with 4:31 to go after Strus buried a 3-pointer. That capped a 15-3 run that began with a six-point outburst on two free throws by Lyrik Shreiner, a dunk by Strus and two more free throws by Jaylen Butz.
South Florida pulled in front 55-54 after Rideau made two layups. He made a 3-pointer with 1:53 remaining to help preserve the lead, and the Bulls clamped down on defense.
The Blue Demons fell behind by double digits midway through the second half. A 3-pointer by Collins stretched the gap for DePaul to 50-39 with 10:21 to go.
South Florida built a 31-25 lead at the half. The Bulls were led by Collins, who had 11 points before the break.
DePaul leaned heavily on Reed in the first half. He had eight points and five rebounds heading into intermission.
DePaul capped the first-half scoring when Cain hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Reed.
If necessary, a winner-take-all Game 3 will take place Friday night on DePaul's home court.
--Field Level Media