DePaul men’s basketball falls in Big East opener to Georgetown

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DePaul men’s basketball falls in Big East opener to Georgetown

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In the last two practices leading up to DePaul men’s basketball’s Big East opener against Georgetown, head coach Dave Leitao noticed the urgency was off. He said he thought his team was too loose and didn’t seize the moment.

And when it came time to face the Hoyas, DePaul paid the price.

Georgetown (8-5, 1-0 Big East) sank the Blue Demons’ defense with 3-pointers and DePaul never found a rhythm offensively as the Hoyas prevailed 70-58 Wednesday at Allstate Arena.

DePaul (6-7, 0-1) didn’t capitalize on its upset win over then-ranked No. 20 George Washington on Dec. 22.

“That’s not the way we wanted to start off the Big East,” Leitao said. “I thought overall, we didn’t talk a lot today defensively. Our positioning wasn’t great … At home, that’s not the way you want to start.”

The Blue Demons actually began the game with patience and took away the paint from Georgetown. Leitao said the Blue Demons focused on not letting Georgetown get backdoor cuts, and the Hoyas struggled to score.

There was sloppiness on both sides of the ball from both teams, but it was DePaul who had a 12-10 lead with 11:16 to go in the first.

However, Georgetown adjusted by finding its zone from beyond the arc. Gradually, the Hoyas found open shooter after open shooter, and then converted. Georgetown finished shooting 43.5 percent from deep.

“It comes down to communication, really,” DePaul guard Billy Garrett Jr. said. “You have to keep the ball in front of you. Overall, we didn’t defend well and didn’t defend like we had been the last couple of games.”

Leitao said it was about knowing where the Blue Demons needed to be. He said that his team was often a step or two behind.

Georgetown, though, still shot 39 percent from the field. There were stretches where they struggled to score.

DePaul couldn’t take advantage on the offensive end. The Blue Demons never found their groove and ended the first half with just four players in the scoring column.

Eli Cain and Myke Henry, players who had been averaging 8.8 points and 13.4 points per game respectively, had games to forget. In his Big East debut, Cain had just three points on 1-for-7 shooting, while going 1-of-4 from the free throw line.

Henry, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 from the field and 2-of-4 from the line for two points. The performance led him to tweet afterwards, “Won’t ever happen from me again!! That’s a promise.”

Leitao said the length of the Hoyas bothered the Blue Demons, and that they didn’t do a good enough job of moving that length around.

“We didn’t look sharp on offense at really any point,” Leitao said. “A guy like Myke, Aaron or even Billy, when we don’t play to our strengths, we don’t play with a flow on offense.”

Garrett was the one consistent scorer for the Blue Demons, who led the team with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists. But even he struggled, tying a season high five turnovers.

DePaul, in general, was careless with the ball, turning it over 14 times and Georgetown turned it into 15 points.

“I don’t think Bill played with urgency today,” Leitao said. “I thought towards the the end of the game, he started to make quicker and sharper decisions when we were down was the only time he played with a sense of urgency.

“When he went and decided to attack the rim, he was a little bit too loose with the basketball. You play the point in this league, you can’t give the ball back. In all the things he does very well, you can’t give the ball back.”

Leitao added that he had every confidence that Garrett would make the corrections.

There were moments that DePaul appeared to be within grasp of making a comeback. With nearly six minutes left, they trailed 55-47. It was an improvement after Georgetown began the half with an 8-0 run to lead 40-27.

But another reason DePaul couldn’t close the gap was their free throws. They shot a measly 54 percent (13-of-24) and an even worse 43.8 percent after halftime. Georgetown, on the other hand, shot 78 percent from the line (18-of-23).

Guard D’Vauntes Smith Rivera and forward Issac Copeland led the Hoyas each with 15 points.

The Blue Demons have to rebound quickly when they face Seton Hall Saturday at 10 a.m. The Pirates are coming off a 20-point demolition win over Marquette in Milwaukee.

“We’re playing good teams from here on out, so we have to be more consistent,” Garrett said. “We have to work hard to work together more. When we don’t do that, we lose games.”