Men’s hoops defeats Loyola 81-74
DePaul men’s basketball beat cross-town rival Loyola-Chicago 81-74 in their 54th meeting Saturday at Allstate Arena. After a close first half that ended with a three-point buzzer beater by Jeremiah Kelly that gave the Blue Demons a 32-30 lead, DePaul (5-6) came out in the second with an energy that Loyola (8-4) could not overcome.
“Obviously we’re very pleased to get a win over Loyola….there’s a strong connection between our two universities, both outstanding universities,” said DePaul Head Coach Oliver Purnell. “And hopefully today we proved that we’re just a little bit better. I thought the stretch in the second half where we kind of fought a little harder and really dug in defensively and finished on the offensive end of the floor was important, but I thought the tempo of the game all the way through was in our favor.”
Pressuring the Ramblers throughout, DePaul prevented numerous offensive opportunities for their opponents, in addition to limiting their three-point shots.
“Obviously, they had some jump shots early, had a few in late, but I thought in the meat of the game their legs were going a little bit and they missed some jump shots that maybe normally they would make,” said Purnell. “So I thought our pressure really wore on them, so overall I was pretty pleased with some of the things we executed.”
DePaul had five players score double-digits, including Tony Freeland (16), Mike Stovall (13), Kelly (12), Krys Faber (10, a career-high) and Cleveland Melvin (13). Faber, who had five of DePaul’s 19 team fouls, also notched his first career three-pointer as the shot clock buzzer went off.
“That really, that was wow, I mean, ball was in my hands, they said, ‘Shoot,’ I sent it up, that’s pretty much all I can say about that,” said Faber, who also had a career-high four steals.
A 25-12 DePaul run with just over 13 minutes left in the game highlighted the second half. Loyola attempted to slow the Blue Demons’ momentum with a timeout, but was unable to come closer than within three points, falling behind by as many as 14. While Loyola shot 43.5 percent during the first half and 44.1 in the second, DePaul upped their shot percentage from 43.3 to 68.0 in the second, shooting 54.5 overall.
“When we play well offensively, we have balance,” said Purnell. “We don’t have a guy you can count on to get 20 points a night, so balanced scoring is the key to us offensively. And if we get six, seven, eight guys playing well offensively and do a decent job defensively, then I feel like we can play with anybody.”
Despite the team’s overall progress this season – they are 4-2 in December – Purnell is still looking for improvement particularly with offensive rebounding, as the team had just seven offensive rebounds to 18 while on defense.
“We turned the ball over a little bit on the fast break, but, again, tempo was more important than taking care of the ball,” said Purnell. “What kept us from playing really well is the thing that’s kept us from playing all year long and that’s our inability to rebound when we force a quick shot and we’ve got to do a better job of that. I think we’ve got to kind of look at it with the mentality that, if we’re really fighting then we’re rebounding even or better.”
The Blue Demons have now won 14 of the past 15 matchups against Loyola.
“Any time you play a rival game, any time you play someone that’s in the neighborhood, you know, you want those bragging rights,” said Purnell. “And that’s the great thing about just about any sport, having that rivalry…[the players are] smiling now because they can go to the water cooler, they can go downtown, they can go Southside, Northside, wherever and say, you know, we got ‘em.”
Kelly, who tallied nine points in the first half, his best first-half performance this season, echoed Purnell’s thoughts and said, “We definitely wanted to get bragging rights, but at the same time we want to get better at each game.”
DePaul will play their final non-conference game against Florida Atlantic University on Wednesday at Allstate Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Published on The DePaulia Online