At it’s core, this was a match-up of two teams desperate for a win. DePaul had lost 10 of their last 11, while Marquette suddenly found themselves reeling, having lost 4 of 5. Marquette held multiple 5+ point leads, but could never put DePaul away. The Blue Demons would keep coming back and would do enough to take down Marquette, by a 69-68 margin.
Markus Howard would take over early. After hitting a three, he assisted on two more baskets and took a charge as Marquette took an early 9-2 lead. DePaul would storm back led by Romeo Weems. He threw down two thunderous dunks as the Blue Demons would quickly erase the deficit to lead 10-9. The two teams would trade baskets the rest of the half and go into the break tied 32-32.
In the second half, Marquette would hold numerous leads, but DePaul kept hanging in the game. While Howard would finish with 29 points, DePaul did a great job on him in team defense. When he would drive, they would quickly cut him off and double him, shutting down his passing lanes (only finished with 1 assist in the final 36 minutes) and forced him into 6 turnovers. DePaul wouldn’t shoot well from the field (17-56) or from 3 (4-22), they would shoot and make a lot of free throws (31-35). DePaul’s final 6 points would come from the line as they would close out Marquette, 69-68.
DePaul won this game without their best player. Paul Reed sat out with injury, but their starters stepped up to secure the upset. One could argue that DePaul didn’t deserve to win the game. They (Charlie Moore) took questionable shots down the stretch and they made zero field goals in the final 1:30. But what they did do is play incredible team defense. In the final two minutes they forced two turnovers, blocked a Howard 3-point attempt, and forced the ball out of Howard’s hands for a Brendan Bailey miss. This team is talented and showed elite defensive ability. While they’ve been a major disappointment this season, they show they could be a potential threat in the Big East Tournament.
Marquette fans have seen this before. After finding themselves the favorite to win the Big East regular season title, Marquette would lose their last four regular season games. They would go 1-1 in the Big East Tournament and get blown in the NCAA Tournament (but how could they really have been expected to beat Ja Morant?). This season, the Golden Eagles had played there way through a tough schedule to find themselves ranked #18 after 23 games. Then they lost four of five. While these losses were to Big East’s top four teams, they did inspire much confidence. But that’s fine, right? It was just a tough stretch. Well, after a loss to last ranked DePaul, the panic really sets in. Is this team truly the non-tournament worthy team it has played like recently, or are they the team that battled their way into the top 25? With only one regular season game left, Wojo’s squad needs to figure out quick before they blow the end of Howard’s career.