5 best moments for DePaul athletics from the 2018-2019 season

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5 best moments for DePaul athletics from the 2018-2019 season

DePaul freshmen Lexi Held and junior Chante Stonewall celebrate after Stonewall scored a crucial basket for the Blue Demons in the Big Tournament title game on March 13.

DePaul freshmen Lexi Held and junior Chante Stonewall celebrate after Stonewall scored a crucial basket for the Blue Demons in the Big Tournament title game on March 13.

Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia

DePaul freshmen Lexi Held and junior Chante Stonewall celebrate after Stonewall scored a crucial basket for the Blue Demons in the Big Tournament title game on March 13.

Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia

Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia

DePaul freshmen Lexi Held and junior Chante Stonewall celebrate after Stonewall scored a crucial basket for the Blue Demons in the Big Tournament title game on March 13.

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A year that has been filled with multiple Big East Tournament champions, massive comebacks in championship games, multiple teams making the NCAA Tournament, freshmen bursting out onto the scene and seniors making their final contributions at DePaul: The DePaulia revisit the five best moments from this past season in DePaul athletics. 

1: Women’s basketball wins Big East Tournament.

Just like they have many times before, DePaul and Marquette produced an instant classic in the Big East Tournament championship game that will go down as one of the more memorable games played in this long and storied rivalry. With the game hanging in the balance in the final few seconds, DePaul junior forward Chante Stonewall converted on a 3-point play with five seconds left to give the Blue Demons the 74-73 win over the Golden Eagles and send them back to the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night at Wintrust Arena.

“Well, the plan was to get me back to the pinch post and operate there and get to the basket if I could, and if not, to kick it out for Ashton,” DePaul junior guard Chante Stonewall said about her 3-point play at the end of the game. “And then after it went in, of course we were all excited, but I knew I had been struggling with free throws lately, so I knew I had to just hit that free throw, knock it down, but then also get another stop.”

Immediately after knocking down the free throw to give DePaul the one-point lead, Stonewall turned her attention to guarding the Big East Player of the Year, Natisha Hiedeman. With only five seconds left on the clock, and no timeouts remaining for Marquette, Hiedeman got the ball off the inbound, drove down the court and was forced left into a tough mid-range shot that was contested by the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player: Stonewall.

As soon as the shot fell short, DePaul players and fans rushed the court to celebrate its second-consecutive Big East Tournament championship. Stonewall finished with a game high 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting and 3-for-5 from the 3-point line.

With the result, DePaul won its second-straight Big East Tournament title and went on to play in their 17th-straight NCAA Tournament a week later. 

2: Softball wins Big East Tournament.

Just like the women’s basketball team, which had to come back from a large deficit in the second half, the softball team also completed a massive comeback in the Big East Tournament championship game against Villanova.

DePaul had to use every bit of magic they had in order to beat Villanova, and under first-year head coach Tracie Adix-Zins, the Blue Demons came back from trailing 9-3 to win 11-10 and capture their third-straight Big East Tournament title on May 11 in Rosemont, Illinois. 

DePaul entered the bottom of the sixth inning getting outplayed through the first five innings and were six outs away from losing the Big East Tournament title game. Instead, the Blue Demons’ offense came to life and put up eight runs in the inning to take the lead and eventually win the game.

After getting two runs to cut the lead to 9-5, senior Morgan Greenwood stepped up to the plate with two players on base and blasted a three-run home run and getting DePaul within one run of Villanova.

“When I came up to bat, I looked at the scoreboard and was like, ‘Wow, one swing could put us just one run away,’” Greenwood said. “I was thinking just to pass the bat to my teammates and find a way to just get on base. I was just so excited and it’s amazing to energize your team and find a way to get back and get this win.”

The Blue Demons went on to add another six runs in the inning, taking an 11-9 lead into the last inning. Villanova did get one run back in the seventh inning, but the Blue Demons prevailed in the end, winning their third-straight Big East Tournament title. 

3: Men’s basketball forces game three in CBI championship series

After losing the game in one of the CBI championship series against USF, the Blue Demons came back to Lincoln Park needing to win game two in order to stay alive in the finals. That’s exactly what they did, winning 100-96 in overtime with senior Eli Cain and sophomore Jaylen Butz getting injured during the game. 

After being held to 17 points in game one on April 1, DePaul senior guard Max Strus eclipsed that by halftime with 20 first-half points, while going 6-of-8 from the 3-point line. The senior finished with 32 points.

The Blue Demons were forced to play the majority of the night without senior guard Eli Cain, who was forced to leave the game with 7:07 left in the first half after landing awkwardly after a foul by USF forward Michael Durr. Cain would not return and ended up missing game three of the series. 

After watching Cain depart, Strus said the team rallied around the injury and were motivated to win for their injured teammate.

“Plain and simple, we won that for Eli,” Strus said. “We lost one of our brothers in the middle of the game. We all love him and we had to do whatever it took to get that win out and we all came together and got it done.”

The Blue Demons got great contributions from redshirt freshman Flynn Cameron and junior Lyrik Shreiner, who combined to score eight of the team’s 18 points in overtime and helped propel the team to victory. DePaul did, however, lose game three of the CBI championship series two days later, 77-65. 

 4: Max Strus scores career-high 43 points on Senior Day.

Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia
DePaul senior guard Max Strus drives around St. John’s defender Shamorie Ponds on March 3 at Wintrust Arena. Strus finished with a career-high 43 points on senior day.

On senior day, the Blue Demons rode the backs of two of their seniors, Max Strus and Femi Olujobi, en route to a 92-83 win against the St. John’s Red Storm at Wintrust Arena. The win snapped a four-game losing streak and completed a Blue Demon season sweep of the Red Storm for the first time ever. 

But the main contribution came from Strus who poured in a career-high 43 points on 14-for-22 shooting, 6-for-10 from the 3-point line and hit all nine free throws. 

“We won, that’s really all that matters,” Strus said after the game. “I made a couple of baskets; we won the game. We’re back on a winning streak now. It was getting rough here for a little bit, but we’re going to turn things around and that’s a first step to do it.”

Strus’ impact was felt over the court on March 3, not just on offense. After draining a three with 1:51 left in the second half to give his team an 84-77 lead, Strus rushed down the court to get set on defense and took a charge, which helped seal the win for DePaul.

5: DePaul dominate Georgetown on March 6, winning 101-69. 

After senior Max Strus had a career day March 3, scoring 43 points and helping the Blue Demons defeat St. John’s for the second time this season, the Blue Demons followed that solo performance up by dominating Georgetown three days later at Wintrust Arena. 

Everything that could have went well for the Blue Demons against the Hoyas did go well. 

The Blue Demons went into the break up by 23 points, but Georgetown was able to put together a run at the start of the second half and got within 14 points of the home team. DePaul, however, quickly brushed aside that run by exploding for 19-straight points and taking their largest lead of the night. 

Strus scored 10 of his game-high 30 points during that stretch, including his seventh and eighth triples of the game.