DePaul falls to Xavier 78-67 for 13th Big East loss

Romeo+Weems+and+Darious+Hall+talk+to+each+other+during+DePaul%27s+91-71+loss+to+Villanova+on+Feb.+19.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Romeo Weems and Darious Hall talk to each other during DePaul’s 91-71 loss to Villanova on Feb. 19.

After defeating Georgetown 74-68 on Saturday at Wintrust Arena, DePaul had its eyes set on starting a winning streak in the Big East. Xavier, on the other hand, had other plans for the Blue Demons Tuesday night at the Cintas Center.

The Musketeers used their hot shooting from the outside to pull away from DePaul, and ended up winning 78-67 to complete a season sweep over the Blue Demons. Xavier, who came into Tuesday’s game as the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big East this season, went 12-of-25 from behind the arc — including making 10 3-pointers in the first half.

With the Musketeers having a hot hand on Tuesday, there was even more pressure on DePaul to play mistake-free basketball. Instead, the Blue Demons made mistake after mistake both in the first and second half. 

To begin the game, the Blue Demons committed a turnover which led to a 3-pointer for Xavier’s Jason Carter. DePaul, however, was able to play through its early mistakes and even take a 6-5 lead inside the first four minutes of the game. But Xavier quickly responded with three straight 3-pointers, taking a 14-8 lead after six minutes of action. 

By the 11-minute mark of the first half, Xavier already possessed a 24-12 advantage thanks to hot shooting and turnovers from DePaul. But the Blue Demons were able to fight their way back into the game, with a 3-pointer from senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands and a jumper from junior forward Paul Reed cut the deficit to five. 

Xavier, however, took back control of the game and played through its star forward, Naji Marshall. Marshall, who is averaging 16.1 points per game this season, scored 16 points in the first half to carry his team to a 44-36 lead at the break. DePaul was led by Reed, who had 12 points and seven rebounds at the break.

Even though the Blue Demons only made three 3-pointers and had 10 turnovers in the first half, trailing only by eight gave them some life heading into the intermission. DePaul also held a sizable 22-12 rebounding advantage. And they used that bit of life to their advantage to begin the second.

Xavier came out of the break sluggish and lethargic, committing two consecutive turnovers and giving up five straight points to the Blue Demons. Junior guard Charlie Moore was DePaul’s spark plug to begin the half, scoring five points and cutting the deficit to three. 

The Musketeers responded by building their lead back to seven, 50-43, with 15:58 to play in the game. But DePaul was able to tally off four straight points to once again get back within three, 50-47.

Then, DePaul’s offense crumbled.

After getting within three points of Xavier with 14 minutes to play, the Blue Demons committed four straight turnovers, while Xavier kept building its lead back up. Four minutes later, DePaul only scored one more point, while the Musketeers got their offense going again. Xavier took a 62-48 with eight minutes to play in the game.

Game. Set. Match. 

DePaul never recovered from that point, even with the best efforts from Reed and freshman forward Romeo Weems. Reed finished the game with 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Weems poured in 16 points, grabbed six rebounds, took the ball away five times and dished out three assists. 

The Blue Demons finished the game with 22 turnovers, which is the team’s second highest mark of the season. DePaul now drops to 2-13 in the Big East, and only has three games left before the Big East Tournament. Dave Leitao’s team will next face Butler on the road Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.