The Blue Demons beat the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Panthers 77-59 Sunday and improved to 2-1 this season.
The Panthers scored two points early but would only lead for 29 seconds before DePaul tied and then took the lead for the rest of the game.
Sophomore guard Eli Cain and senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. led the Blue Demons in scoring, both with 20 points apiece.
This was a breakout performance from Garrett, who was held to just five point against Rutgers and 10 against Robert Morris.
“I wasn’t really worried (about Garrett),” Cain said. “First two games, he was just missing shots I’ve seen him make time after time after time. (. . .) When he comes alive I know we’re going to be dangerous.”
Early in the game, DePaul had trouble penetrating the Panthers defense but started scoring from deep. Senior guard Chris Harrison-Docks came off the bench early and dropped two threes in a row, then Garrett put up a deep desperation three that brought the Blue Demons up 14-9.
DePaul also held a 16-11 advantage on the boards in the first half led by freshman forward Al Eichenberger who had 4 rebounds in the first. The Blue Demons showed a huge improvement from their Allstate Arena season opener where Rutgers outrebounded DePaul 29-8 in the first.
At half, DePaul led 30-27 and staved off a late attack by the Panthers which would’ve put them within one point.
Midway through the second half sophomore guard Eli Cain got going for the Blue Demons. In their 6 of 7 field goal run from the start of the second half, he scored 10 points and 18 total in the second.
“When we play as a team, good players find shot, and (Cain) found shots,” Garrett said. “He did what he’s been doing every single game, and he’s been playing amazing.”
Garrett ended the game with six rebounds and six assists, and he also sprung the team with key drives inside the paint, some setting up big three-point plays.
“I thought it was his game,” coach Dave Leitao said. “(. . .) When it was in the full court, he’d try to get to the rim and as a result he got fouled a lot. I think that’s his game, when he’s coming at you.”
In the second, DePaul played better across the board. The offense starting going and they led by double digits for most of the game. The defense continued to stifle Milwaukee’s offense, holding them to a 41.8 field goal percentage.
“(. . .) When you score a basket, you feel better and that allowed us to play better defense,” Leitao said. “They shot three of 23 (from behind the three point line) today, and they got some open looks so they shouldn’t be too happy with how they shot the ball, but I think we were the cause of it because (. . .) on defence we put an effort into guarding the three point line.”
DePaul will look to put up another win at Allstate Arena against Missouri State Wednesday.