DePaul played their second game of the Blue Demon Classic against the Northern Kentucky Norse on Friday night in Wintrust Arena.
DePaul had a very balanced effort tonight, in which 4 Blue Demons scored at least 10 points.
To start the first half there was a lot of back and forth, but with around 3 minutes left the Blue Demons began to pull away from the Norse, and at one point had an 11 point lead. The lead was cut to 9 as the first half ended, resulting in a 39-30 score in favor of DePaul.
DePaul looked much better in the first half compared to last Saturday against Western Illinois. The Blue Demons shot an amazing 15 for 30 (50%) from the field, including 5 for 12 (41.7%) from three. Blue Demon star player Javon Freeman-Liberty came to play in the first half. The senior guard had a 13 point 10 rebound double-double in just the first half. This was JFL’s 4th game with a double-double. In this one, he ended with a team-high 20 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Oregon transfer Jalen Terry also made his debut tonight totaling 3 assists in his first half back in action. Terry would finish the game with 5 points and 4 assists.
Northern Kentucky was on the opposite side of the shooting spectrum in the first half. The Norse shot 8 for 33 (24.2%) from the field including 4 for 11 (36.4%) from three. Most of NKU’s points in the first half were generated from their starting backcourt duo of sophomore Marques Warrick who had 10 points and senior Trevon Faulkner who followed close behind with 8. The two guards combined for 18 of 30 total first-half points for the Norse. Warrick would end up being the only bright spot of this game for the Norse, finishing with a team and game-high 23 points.
The second half was all Blue Demons. After a Trevon Faulkner three to start the half, DePaul answered with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 13. This second-half dominance was reflected by the stellar play of forwards Nick Ongenda and David Jones. Ongenda eclipsed his previous career-high points scored (15), scoring 17. Along with 17 points, the former ESPN Top 100 recruit had 5 rebounds. Another guy that balled out in the second half was David Jones who scored 9. The sophomore from the Dominican Republic finished the game with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
After having their largest first-half lead of the year, Coach Stubblefield attributed it to “being more locked in...on what needed to get done on the defensive end.” He said that they need to “lock in on defense and rebounding and not more so on trying to outscore [their] opponents.”
DePaul finished the game with a 77-68 win and led by as much as 19 at one point. The Blue Demons are now 5-0 for the second time in three seasons. DePaul plays their third game of three in the Blue Demon Classic on Sunday, as the 2-3 Eastern Michigan Eagles come to town. Northern Kentucky will be back on the road this week, with their next game being at the Wolstein Center against the 3-2 Cleveland State Vikings.