It was a great night for the DePaul Blue Demon basketball program. After the women’s team beat their opponent by over 50 points, the men’s program got their season off to a great start. DePaul got their (unofficial) first win of the year with a 79-53 win over Division II Rockhurst Eagles.
The game got off to a rough start offensively. By the time the first media timeout occurred, only a five points had been scored by both teams combined. Granted this was an exhibition game. so some slack can be given for the lack of offense. Teams are expected to come out rusty and that is exactly what happened. DePaul tried to get Billy Garrett Jr. involved in the game early via the pick and roll. Garrett used his ability to get to the basket to draw in the roll mans defender and then he would dump it off to an open man underneath. Problem was that the pass was either stolen or the shot was missed.
Tonight was also DePaul’s first chance to look at some freshmen and transfers, most particularly Chris Harrison-Docks. The transfer from Western Kentucky got some minutes at point guard and played decent considering it was his first game with the Blue Demons.
To start the game, Rockhurst’s offense looked even worse than DePaul’s did. The Eagles only had one point, a free throw, until the 12:13 mark when Travis House knocked down a three. The junior knocked down three triples in the first half and kept Rockhurst in the game early on. This was the first of two exhibition games for the team from the Great Lakes Valley Conference. After the rough start, Rockhurst started to generate better looks, especially from deep. As an underdog, one of the best things you could do is knock down the three-ball and Rockhurst knocking down threes gave DePaul trouble. Defensively they continued to generate turnovers and taking advantage of a stagnant Blue Demon offense. With the score 33-27, it was clear that we were in a tight game. Something that was not expected before tip off.
It was a rough first half for freshman Devin Gage. He spent much of it running behind House and struggled in doing so. Being exploited defensively is not a good sign, especially in your first game. But this is an exhibition and expect Gage to get better as the year goes on.
A couple of quick fouls on Tre’Darius McCallum got him into trouble to begin the second half and quickly the bench players were on for DePaul. Rockhurst kept it close through the initial part of the first half thanks to the same things that they did right in the first half. House kept hitting threes and point guard Malachi Nix was a thorn in the DePaul side all night. But the Blue Demons were able to push the lead up to double digits with around 13 minutes left in the half and never looked back. It ballooned up to 17 by the ten minute mark and it was all but over for the Eagles. In the end, it was a 79-53 win for DePaul.
After a rough first half, DePaul clearly showed they were the better team in the other half. The offense looked a lot more fluid, thanks to Garrett Jr. , who finished with a game high 23 points. The three-point shooting began to look better in the second half. In an exhibition game, the point is mainly to get the jitters out and test out the new guys. The turnovers, however, is an issue that needs to be addressed. DePaul had 19 tonight and they can’t keep playing like that heading into non-conference play.
While the win was good for DePaul and their confidence, the real games begin next week when they take on Robert Morris in their season opener.