Men lose to No. 13 Butler 70-69

After losing their last five games against their fellow Big East opponent Butler (17-3, 6-2 Big East), DePaul (8-12, 1-7 Big East) put the pressure on the Bulldogs early and often before surrendering their lead in the final seconds of overtime in Saturday’s 70-69 loss at Allstate Arena.

“First of all, I have got to give DePaul a lot of credit,” Butler’s head coach Chris Holtmann said after the game. “We were fortunate to win this one.”

After trading baskets to start the game, DePaul summoned the electric offense they had been missed all year, scoring 14 unanswered points as the first five minutes of play ticked off the clock. A few minutes later, the Demons extended their lead to 20.

Sophomore Eli Cain led the Demons though the first half with 21 points, shooting 70 percent from the floor on 10 attempts. Cain’s performance slowed in the second half, but he would add 11 more points on his way to a career high 32 points.

“We had no answer for Cain,” coach Holtmann commented.

Tre’Darius McCallum was the only other Blue Demon to score more than one basket in the first half, knocking down three shots from behind the arc in the first five minutes for all nine of his first half points. He ended his night with a double-double, scoring 15 points and snatching 11 rebounds.

Senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. had s slow first half but heated up in the second, but could not help DePaul. (Photo by Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

Senior point guard Billy Garrett Jr. stumbled out of the gate, managing to score his only point at the free throw line and failing to register an assist. Garrett also turned the ball over three times in the first half, contributing to some all-around sloppy play that allowed Butler to stay in the game.

“This is a very unforgiving league, with talented and experienced players, and you got to bring it,” DePaul’s head coach Dave Leitao said after the game, “(Eli Cain and Garrett) played with a lot of resilience.”

The talent and experience of the players on both sides was put to the test in the second half of Saturday’s Big East match-up. Butler zeroed DePaul’s lead less than a minute into the second half, eventually capturing their first lead of the night.

DePaul fired back with a seven point run from a rejuvenated Billy Garrett Jr., who went on to post 15 points between the second half and overtime.

As the end of the second half grew closer, DePaul was still holding their lead, but their composure began to erode. Up by seven, with 5:13 to play, Cain fouled Butler’s leading scorer Kethan Savage along the sideline, near mid-court, knocking him to the ground. The reckless defensive effort handed Bulldogs a point and flipped the momentum in their favor.

As the clock was approaching two minutes, Butler’s Avery Woodson launched a three-point shot that found nothing-but-net, giving the Bulldogs a one-point advantage.

Down by one with 2.1 seconds remaining, Cain was fouled by Savage and handed two free throws and a chance to win the game. He made the first one to tie the game, and miss the go ahead shot, sending the game into overtime.

DePaul scored the first overtime points on another perfect jump-shot from Cain. Savage responded by drawing a foul and making a layup for a three-point-play, taking back the lead. That lead was erased seconds later when, once again, Cain buried a three-point jump-shot.

A Garrett layup tied the game with ten seconds to play, and a foul from Tyler Wideman brought the senior point guard to the free-throw line with a chance to take the lead – and the lead he would take.

On Butler’s final chance to win the game, Kamar Baldwin exposed a lack of discipline in DePaul’s front-court by drawing a foul from Tre’Darius McCallum. He made two free throws, the second for the final lead of the game.

Garrett took the in-bound pass up the court with the final three seconds evaporating from the game clock and hoisted a sloppy shot toward the basket. The game ended there, 70-69.

“We came up a few plays short,” Leitao said after the game, “I’d like to have a few of those back.”