A Nick Ongenda dunk gave the the DePaul Blue Demons a 53-52 lead and their final one of the game. Over the final 4:29, the Blue Demons went cold and did not score a single points. The Connecticut Huskies would finish the game on a 7-0 run and took home the victory after their 60-53 defeat over the Blue Demons.
Heading into the game it was announced the Huskies would be without start guard James Bouknight because of an elbow issue. Last time these two teams met up, Bouknight dropped 22 points in a 82-62 Connecticut win.
Head coach Dave Leitao switched his starting lineup for the first time this season. He inserted Darious Hall and Pauley Paulicap while leaving out Ray Salnave and Nick Ongenda.
Unfortunately, both the absence of Bouknight and the lineup shakeup did not spark the team one bit. For the first nine minutes, DePaul was shooting just 13 percent. Connecticut held a 17-6 at the time but the Blue Demons clawed back. They made 10 of their next 15 shots and got within one on an Ongenda free throw with just over 5 minutes left in the first half. Under 1 minute, they had another one-point deficit but a Paulicap foul went Tyrese Martin to the line. Martin sink both free throws and put the Huskies up 33-30 at the half.
Blue Demons started things off fast by going on an 8-0 run before Connecticut called the first timeout of the half. After that DePaul had an extended drought on offense which would become a norm in this game. A Salnave three-pointer tied the game at 42 with 11:35 left in the game.
For much of the next few minutes, the two teams went shot for shot and kept the game close. At the 5:36 mark, Javon Freeman-Liberty makes a layup and give the Blue Demons their largest lead at four. DePaul held a 51-47 lead.
The rest of the game was all Connecticut as they overtook DePaul’s lead. They held the Blue Demons to just a Nick Ongenda dunk with 4:29 left in the game. Connecticut sweeps the season series with a 60-53 defeat of DePaul.
Darious Hall lead the Blue Demons in scoring as the only one in double digits with 10. Overall, even with their droughts, DePaul shot okay at 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc. They even out-rebounded Connecticut 39-29. Unfortunately DePaul had 24 turnovers and 19 fouls as a team.
Huskies’ Tyrese Martin continues his dominance against the Blue Demons. He lead all scorers with 18 points. He also grabbed 4 rebounds and had an assist, 5 steals, a block, and 3 turnovers in 37 minutes of play.
DePaul has not beat Connecticut since 2007 and now find themselves 1-4 on the season. They are also 0-4 in the Big East Conference and sit in last place.
“I thought for most — if not all — 40 minutes, our competition level was where it needed to be against a really good team that is as solid as any team in this league, whether they have Bouknight or not,” coach Dave Leitao said to the media.
The above statement to many has become a constant from Leitao. A city that prides themselves on their great basketball legacy no longer can accept moral victories from a once storied program. Moving forward the program needs to take a drastic turn for better if the fan base should feel satisfied with supporting the school both with their time and even money.
Also worth noting, Jaylen Butz is no longer with the team and transferring. He averaged 10.1 points on 59.3 percent shooting and 5.4 rebounds during the 2019-20 season for the Blue Demons.
DePaul plays next on Wednesday, January 13 in Washington verse the Georgetown Bulldogs. The game’s tip-off is schedule for 7:30 p.m. CT. Fans can view the game on FS1 or tune into 670 The Score.