DePaul unable to keep No. 7 Villanova down
Coach Oliver Purnell breaks down DePaul’s loss to Villanova
Billy Garrett clenched his fists as a hearty “Yeah!” escaped his lips for all of Allstate Arena to hear.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore guard understandably was elated with the 3-pointer he had just made Saturday to give DePaul a seven-point lead against No. 7 Villanova 1 minute, 12 seconds into the second half.
An upset would have left DePaul and Garrett in an even better mood and would have marked the program’s first victory against a top-10 team since the Blue Demons topped No. 5 Kansas by seven on Dec. 2, 2006.
Instead, the Blue Demons left their home court upset at themselves after a 68-55 Big East loss.
“We struggled offensively in the second half,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “I thought they made a conscious effort to get the ball out of Billy’s hands by trapping and switching. We didn’t handle that great, that’s for sure.”
The Blue Demons led by 11 points with 6:55 left in the first half. The lead and hope for victory disappeared for good after Josh Hart’s putback with 14:44 left in the game.
“I told the guys this is the best league in the country and we have to go for 40 minutes defensively,” Purnell said. “But 20 won’t get it done.”
Neither did DePaul’s showing on the boards. Villanova (19-2, 6-2) was decisive in that category, outrebounding the Blue Demons 35-18 while shutting them out 16-0 on second-chance points.
After Garrett’s early second-half 3, DePaul (11-12, 5-5) was outscored 12-1 over the next 7:35, including a 10-0 run that featured eight made free throws in a row from JayVaughn Pinkston (14 points). Ryan Arcidiacono scored all 18 of his game-high points in the second half, while Daniel Ochefu had eight of his 12 rebounds.
“We tried to throw the first punch in the second half,” DePaul’s Rashaun Stimage said. “We didn’t get the job done.”
Garrett finished with a team-best 14 points and eight assists after posting 10 and five in the first half of DePaul’s third consecutive loss.
“We didn’t do a good job in the first half of getting everybody to load to him,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “You just can’t let him see open space. He’s too good.”
And the Blue Demons, who started an all-Chicago area lineup for the first time this season (Thomas Hamilton IV, Stimage, Myke Henry, Garrett and Jamee Crockett), weren’t quite good enough.
“It’s a hotbed, and we want to have a core group from here,” Purnell said. “The fact we had five in the starting lineup is part and parcel to that.”
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