DePaul basketball picks up its first conference win

depaul basketball

DePaul basketball picked up its first conference win on Saturday, defeating the Marquette Golden Eagles 68-61 on the road. The Blue Demons were coming into this game fresh off another Big East loss to Butler, while Marquette was hoping to add another game to its winning streak.

In their most complete game of the season, the Blue Demons controlled both ends of the floor.

DePaul’s go-to duo of junior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty and senior guard Charlie Moore - the Demons’ two leading scorers of the season so far - combined for 40 of the Demons’ 68 points. On the defensive end, sophomore center Nick Ongenda added a game-high five blocks, four of which were in the first half, while junior forward Darious Hall supplied a game-high three steals. Hall also added a team-high seven rebounds for the Blue Demons.

Though DePaul led for most of the game, Marquette did give the Demons some worries throughout the contest. At the break, the Golden Eagles trailed by only six points. During the second half, it was a close contest for the entire 20 minutes. DePaul extended its lead to 13 points halfway through the second half, but Marquette was quick to answer. Within just four minutes left, the Golden Eagles took a 56-54 lead - their first lead since early in the first half.

Hoping to avoid a heartbreaker of a loss, the Blue Demons turned on the offensive to avoid a late game collapse. With less than 30 seconds left to play, Marquette’s D.J. Carton nailed another 3-pointer to cut the Demons’ lead to three. Thanks to Moore’s clutch free throw shooting, DePaul sealed its first Big East win and its third win overall.

Saturday’s player of the game could be no other than the Demons’ de facto captain with Moore. The 5-foot-11 Moore scored 21 points, the most of any DePaul player and second only to Carton. Adding three assists, two steals and three rebounds, Moore made the most of his 30 minutes of playing time. Moore also went 10-for-10 from the free throw line, including those clutch shots at the end of the game to close out the win. Scoring the final 10 points for the Blue Demons, Moore added his 15th career game of 20 or more points.

“Winning is a euphoric feeling and not having the opportunity in this league thus far to do that has been hard on all the guys,” head coach Dave Leitao said. “To be able to win - particularly on the road against a really good team - I give a lot of credit to the ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ of the guys and keeping a positive mindset on what we try to do.”

DePaul finished the game with a season-low turnover count of 11, a stark contrast to its season-high count of 24 turnovers in a second loss against UConn just a couple weeks ago.

Looking to build upon their first conference win, the Blue Demons will begin a three-game homestand on Wednesday night against the St. John’s Red Storm. This will be their first meeting of the season, as the game scheduled for Jan. 2 was postponed. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET on FS1.

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