DePaul’s Billy Garrett scored a game-high 23 points, including an elbow jumper at the buzzer, to lead the Blue Demons (3-1) past visiting Missouri State here Wednesday, 68-66.
The Bears (3-1) were led by Chris Kendrix with 15 points and 9 rebounds, while Ronnie Rousseau III added 14 points, and Dequon Miller scored 12 for the visitors.
Garrett was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line, including a traditional three-point play with 48 seconds to go to put DePaul up 66-64 at the time. The Bears tied the game with 18.1 seconds to go after Kendrix fought for a loose ball, gathered it in and was fouled before making two ensuing free throws to knot the score at 66.
DePaul called timeout with 13.7 seconds to go, and Garrett dribbled under duress near the top of the key before getting just enough of a seam to get off a challenged jumper that fell as the final horn sounded.
Eli Cain added 22 points for the Blue Demons, and Tre’Darius McCallum posted 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
DePaul led for just 49 seconds on the night.
After the Bears jetted out to a 31-22 lead at the break, DePaul trimmed its deficit to 35-33 just five minutes into the final stanza. But a Rousseau trey, and three straight buckets by Kendrix set up another Rousseau shot from downtown with 11 minutes to go to make it 47-37 for the visitors and cap a 12-4 run.
A run-out dunk by Kendrix at the 7:29 mark matched MSU’s biggest lead of the night, 58-45, before a furious comeback by the home club kept the Bears without a field goal for the next six minutes as part of an 18-4 DePaul desperation effort.
“I really thought the turning point was them applying token pressure in the final six or seven minutes,” said MSU head coach Paul Lusk. “This was a big test for us, and I’m happy with some of the things we did very well on the road, and we have a few things we’ll need to work on and improve upon from here.”
In the first half, the Bears forced 14 turnovers and kept up the pressure from the perimeter with seven treys to lead 31-22 at the midway point. After a pair of free throws by Cain cut MSU’s lead to 17-14, the Bears reeled off the game’s next nine points to push ahead 26-14 after a dunk by Obediah Church.
The run was started on a corner three by Kendrix that Ryan Kreklow followed up with a close-range bucket in transition. Miller converted a steal into a layup at the 5:41 mark to put the Bears up by double figures for the first time, and Church finished the stretch with a rim-rattling dunk that put MSU up by a dozen with just under five minutes left in the half.
DePaul closed out the first half with four of its nine first-half field goals to make it a nine-point game.
MSU finished 25-of-55 (.455) from the field, 10-of-24 (.417) from long range and 6-of-11 (.545) at the foul line. The Bears committed just 13 turnovers, while forcing 18, but were out-rebounded 37-28.
The Bears return to JQH Arena on Sunday at 3 p.m. for a key early-season matchup with North Dakota State (5-1).