The biggest DePaul moments in 36 years at Allstate Arena

In anticipation of the new DePaul arena, we look back at some of the the biggest DePaul moments in 36 years at Allstate Arena.

1980: No. 2 DePaul opens the Horizon

It was the height of the DePaul Blue Demons’ basketball reign.

DePaul had outgrown the on-campus Alumni Hall and was to be one of the anchor tenants of the brand new Rosemont Horizon. On Dec. 1, 1980, the Blue Demons opened the new arena with a game against Gonzaga.

DePaul dispatched  Gonzaga easily with a 74-56 victory to christen their new home. Then, the next day, the Blue Demons became the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll, a position they would carry for more than a month.  It was the best start to a new home that DePaul could have hoped for.

1983: Demons take down Hoyas

It was an early season blockbuster as the No. 4 Blue Demons welcomed the No. 3 Georgetown Hoyas to the Rosemont Horizon. Despite being the home team in this game, DePaul was the underdog as the Hoyas were led by basketball legend Patrick Ewing.

The Hoyas did hold some advantages in this game as they went up by as much as seven in the second half, but they struggled to hit baskets, which allowed DePaul to come back into the game. It was a tight affair but DePaul ended up pulling off the victory 63-61. It was due to good defense holding the Hoyas on their final possession and DePaul pulled out the win. The Blue Demons finished the season 27-3.

1987: NCAA in Rosemont

The DePaul Blue Demons went to the NCAA tournament and ended up with a fortunate position: the Rosemont Horizon.

For the round of 64, the No. 3 Blue Demons took out No. 14 Louisiana Tech 76-62 and advanced to play No. 6 St. John’s. In the battle of future Big East rivals, DePaul prevailed with an 83-75 victory. Under the guidance of head coach Joey Meyer, the Blue Demons advanced to the Seeet Sixteen in Cincinnati, where they lost to No. 10 LSU. However, the home-court advantage in the first two games helped get the Blue Demons to the Sweet Sixteen and was the first and only time DePaul got to play at home during the NCAA tournament.
1990: 2OT thriller over Cincinnati

DePaul was unranked as they took on the No. 3  Cincinnati Bears in Pat Kennedy’s second season with the Blue Demons. It was the largest crowd at the Rosemont Horizon in seven seasons. The two teams were locked into each other as they were tied at the end of regulation and five more minutes of overtime could not seperate the two teams, so they went to double overtime.

DePaul and Cincinatti were still tied with four seconds to go in the second overtime period when Willie Coleman stole the ball and went up for a shot as time expired. His shot missed, but he was fouled and went to the line for two shots with no time on the clock.

Coleman missed the first shot, meaning he needed to hit his second to win. It bounced off the rim, then went in for the upset.

2004: DePaul wins CUSA

DePaul was an independent power for much of their history, so their conference championship count is low compared to other programs that have had a history of success. The Blue Demons tied for one conference title in the Great Midwest Conference but did not contend for other titles until the early 2000s.

During Dave Leitao’s first tenure with DePaul, the Blue Demons needed to be flawless as they chased the Conference USA title. With four games to go, they sat at 8-4, but won their next two games and faced rival Cincinnati in their last home game of the season. They defeated the Bearcats to put themselves in position to win the conference and finished the regular season on a four-game win streak to share their first and only Conference USA championship.

DePaul's Sammy Mejia (11) reacts after tying the game in the second half as the Blue Demons defeated Kansas 64-57 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, Saturday, December 2, 2006. (John Konstantaras/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
DePaul’s Sammy Mejia (11) reacts after tying the game in the second half as the Blue Demons defeated Kansas 64-57 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, Saturday, December 2, 2006. (John Konstantaras/CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

2006: upset over No. 5 Kansas

It was a sold-out crowd at Allstate Arena in December of 2006. DePaul was hosting No. 6 Kansas in the first game of a home-and-home series.

DePaul was 2-4 and coming off a disappointing season in 2005-06 in Jerry Wainwright’s first year as head coach. In Wainwright’s second year, DePaul looked like they might suffer a similar fate as their first stretch of games was lackluster.

That all changed with the Kansas game. The Jayhawks were ranked fifth in the nation and were heavily favorited in the game.

DePaul, however, kept fighting. Even after being down by as much as 14-points in the second half, Sammy Mejia helped lead the comeback as the Blue Demons stormed to take the lead and to stun the Jayhawks. DePaul finished the season 20-12.

2014: women’s basketball wins Big East tournament

DePaul women’s basketball was a strong program in the 2000s as the school joined the Big East, but always ran into trouble because their conference opponents were juggernauts Connecticut and Notre Dame, who always contended for the top of the conference.

So, when DePaul and nine other schools formed the new Big East, DePaul emerged as the new power in Big East women’s basketball and showed why as they rolled to the regular season title and the number one seed as the Big East tournament, which was to take place at Allstate Arena for the first time.

DePaul cruised by Georgetown in the quarterfinals, then beat Marquette by 10 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game. They knocked off St. John’s 67-55 to win their first Big East conference tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament, where they went to the Sweet Sixteen for only the second time.

2016: upset over Providence

DePaul was in the first year of the new Dave Leitao era when they welcome No. 11 Providence to Allstate Arena. The Friars were led by Kris Dunn, who would later delcare for the NBA Draft.

The Blue Demons were struggling in their 2015-16 season but had already pulled off a surprising win over No. 20 George Washington, which showed some of the Blue Demon’s  promise. They showed more of that promise when they took out Providence.

DePaul outrebounded the Friars 48-24 and senior forward Myke Henry had 27 points.

The biggest thing about this game was that DePaul was firmly in control throughout the entire game. They broke the game open with a 13-2 run in the second half and had an answer for every time Providence attempted to come back.

It was a Monday night and DePaul had lost their last eight of nine, which meant the crowd was small enough for DePaul players to storm the student section, instead of the trational court-storming.