DePaul fans were not gift-wrapped a great stay in the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic during the Season of Giving, and that was furthered on Christmas Day when the Loyola Marymount Lions upended the Blue Demons 72-69 to send Oliver Purnell's club back to the Chicagoland area with a dismal 0-3 performance in The Aloha State.
Things were looking good for the Blue Demons going into the 2nd half after they took a two point halftime lead in after 20 minutes. They pushed out to an eight point lead with 17:37 remaining in the period after Jamee Crockett drilled a 3-pointer. From there, however, the tide would shift as the Lions went on a 40-29 run the rest of the way. DePaul never got closer than a one point margin for the remaining time in the game as this will be a tough pill to swallow as they fly back to the Continental United States.
This does it for DePaul's nonconference schedule as the attention shifts to a matchup with Marquette in Rosemont, Illinois on New Year's Eve.
Here are three things we learned from DePaul's loss:
1. The Blue Demon interior defense was pulverized
Defending inside the perimeter has been a problem all season thus far for DePaul and that reared its ugly head once again on Thursday afternoon. Loyola Marymount shot 20-for-35 on their 2-point field goals, which was good for a staggering 57.1 percent mark. The Blue Demons are now 307th in the nation in the 2-point defense category and it goes without saying that in a conference that features the likes of JayVaughn Pinkston, Daniel Ochefu, LaDontae Henton, Carson Desrosiers, and Matt Stainbrook among others, that's going to change as soon as possible.
2. Evan Payne was nearly unstoppable
Not only could DePaul not stop the Lions from scoring at will on their 2-point attempts, they couldn't stop their best player either. Evan Payne, who is sixth in usage rate this season and averaging 19.7 points per game going into Thursday's contest, had a prodigious performance. You might remember him from this ridiculous slam dunk against Wichita State on December 22, but on Christmas Day, the Akron, Ohio native scored 24 whilst shooting 8-for-10 from the field. He was a perfect 3-for-3 from the perimeter and as an added bonus -- a stocking stuffer for Loyola Marymount, if you would -- shot 5-for-7 from the free throw line.
3. Offensive output wasn't a problem from DePaul's starters
Despite the loss, you can hardly fault the DePaul starters in this game from an offensive standpoint. All five netted their way into double figures, with Billy Garrett Jr. leading the pack with 16 points. Jamee Crockett wasn't too far behind as he picked up 15 in the loss, while Tommy Hamilton, Durrell McDonald and Myke Henry compiled 12, 12 and 10 respectively. Efficiency was a bit of a problem -- just 1.01 points per possession -- as well as their efficiency, but perhaps next time the Blue Demons will be rewarded for such a balanced attack.