After a home game on Saturday, the DePaul Blue Demons took an hour trip up north to Milwaukee to face off against the red hot (10-6) (2-3) Marquette Golden Eagles.
This was a back and forth game to start that included threes from Jalen Terry and Javan Johnson for DePaul and Greg Elliott for Marquette. This would result in a 10-9 score, 5 minutes into the game, in favor of the Blue Demons. Marquette would quickly take back the lead with an Oso Ighodaro dunk. Another Greg Elliott three would extend the Golden Eagles’ lead to 4 (14-10).
Marquette would continue its run, extending it all the way to 14-2. Although the Blue Demons have fallen into early deficits, they have shown resiliency time and time again. The story of the first half of the Blue Demons was Yor Anei. The SMU transfer made his first start of the season and did not disappoint. He had 6 points and 8 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Anei was one of the main reasons that this game did not get away from DePaul in the first half.
Another bright spot for the Blue Demons in the first half was their star Javon Freeman-Liberty who had 13 points and 7 rebounds. The thorn in DePaul’s side for the majority of the first half was redshirt junior Greg Elliott who had 15 points including 3 threes.
After Brandon Johnson made one of two free throws with 0.3 seconds on the clock, DePaul would enter halftime trailing Marquette 44-43.
The Blue Demons came out of the gate strong with the second half’s first 5 points, but Marquette did not back down. The Golden Eagles would proceed to go on a 14-5 run backed by 7 points from Maryland transfer Darryl Morsell. By the first media timeout, Marquette would tie their largest lead of the game of 8 (60-52).
The struggle for DePaul in the last few games has been stopping the three. Tonight was no different. With 11:53 left in the game, the Golden Eagles had already made 10 threes. They took advantage of having open looks which propelled them to a 66-56 lead. Unlike their earlier lead, this lead did not crumble.
Entering the second-half U8 media timeout, junior Greg Elliott tied his career-high of 22 points. This pretty much summed up DePaul’s defense. Elliott had combined for 14 points in his last 4 games before this one. He would later surpass his previous career-high and finish the game with 25 points.
The last 8 minutes of the game teetered between a 10-18 point Marquette lead that finally landed on 11. The game would end in a score of 87-76 in favor of Marquette.
There were a couple of bright spots in this 11 point loss for the Blue Demons. Firstly, Yor Anei played a hell of a game. He got the start in place of Nick Ongenda and did not disappoint. The senior finished the game with 16 points on 8 for 12 shooting and added on 10 rebounds. The other player that stepped up for the Blue Demons was more expected. Javon Freeman-Liberty did what he always does: score. He is one of the elite scorers in college basketball and proved that once again tonight. The Chicago native finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Blue Demons also completed outrebounded Marquette. The rebounding margin for DePaul finished +15.
DePaul needs more players to score. Javon Freeman-Liberty can’t do it all himself. Outside of 40 combined points from Yor Anei and JFL, the rest of the team had 36. Besides the scoring issues, to put it nicely, DePaul’s defense was bad. It gave up 87 points including 42 from Marquette’s bench. This is brought up every game, but giving up 11 threes on 50% shooting will not end in positive results in Big East play.
DePaul just needs to get into the win column. I think this start to Big East play has weighed down on the Blue Demons, so one win could give them some much-needed confidence. The only other thing I have to say is that Thursday afternoon is huge. Coach Stubbs has started 1-5 in conference play in his stint at Oregon and eventually brought the Ducks to the tournament in that same year. Let’s see if he can do the same in Chicago.
The (9-6) (0-5) DePaul Blue Demons head back home to play the (11-3) (2-2) Seton Hall Pirates at Wintrust Arena in search of their first Big East win.