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Loyola hands DePaul their first loss of the season, 68-64

DePaul star Javon Freeman-Liberty struggles in loss

Coppin State v DePaul Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

DePaul played against Loyola-Chicago in the Red Line Rivalry on Saturday afternoon in Wintrust Arena.

DePaul suffered their first loss of the season this afternoon against a very good Loyola-Chicago basketball team. The Ramblers take pride in their physical play and tonight they reaped its benefits. In many ways, DePaul outplayed Loyola, but the Ramblers were able to outscore and outrebound the Blue Demons, which ended up being the key factors.

Loyola started the game on a 13-0 run and extended their lead all the way to 15, as they entered the U12 media timeout with a 23-8 lead. DePaul came roaring back with a 9-2 run of their own to cut Loyola’s lead to 7 entering the U8 media timeout. David Jones gave the Blue Demons the spark they needed on offense with 13 points in the first half on 6-12 shooting. Jones would finish the game with a team and game-high 19 points.

After the U8 media timeout, DePaul looked like a completely different team. They ended the half on a 20-5 run, and what was once a 15 point lead for Loyola, turned into a 6 point lead for DePaul. The Blue Demons led 37-31 going into halftime. The big surprise for DePaul in the first half and eventually the entire game was the struggles of their senior star Javon Freeman-Liberty. JFL got into foul trouble early and never really had any momentum. The 6’4” Chicago native finished the game with only 7 points and 6 rebounds after fouling out with 3:57 left in the game.

Going into the second half after giving up a 15 point lead in the first half, head coach Drew Valentine said that “it was all about toughness, it was all about taking care of the ball, it was all about believing in yourself.” This rang true, as Loyola outscored the Blue Demons 37-27 in the second half on the way to a 68-64 win. The Ramblers were led by senior guard Lucas Williamson who had 15 points on 5-10 shooting and Chris Knight who came off the bench and scored 13 points on a very efficient 6-7 shooting. Coach Drew Valentine had high praises for Knight after the game, calling him an improved version of Aundre Jackson who was Loyola’s leading scorer in their Final Four run in the 2017-18 season.

Besides the 19-point effort from David Jones, junior Nick Ongenda and Oregon transfer Jalen Terry stepped up with 11 and 8 points respectively. Commenting on the loss, coach Tony Stubblefield said that he “has to do a better job of getting [his] guys to execute, trusting one another from an offensive standpoint.” The first-year head coach was all class, taking the blame for the team’s first loss of the season. The Blue Demons had a great defensive effort, holding the Ramblers to below 70 points for only the third time this season, but the offensive side for DePaul couldn’t come through.

Looking to bounce back, the now 6-1 DePaul Blue Demons host the 3-5 Duquesne Dukes on Tuesday night at Wintrust Arena.