DePaul falls to Butler, remain winless on the road in Big East play


Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

Jalen Coleman-Lands looks on as DePaul falls to Butler on Feb. 29.

Indianapolis, IN — DePaul began the final week of the regular season by taking on the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. The Blue Demons, who knocked off Butler 79-66 back on Jan. 11 when the Bulldogs were ranked fifth in the country, struggled in their second meeting with Butler to generate enough offense throughout the 40 minutes and lost 60-42. 

DePaul also received bad news prior to the game when junior forward Paul Reed was ruled out with a hip pointer injury. Reed, who has played in every game up until Saturday’s loss, averages 14.9 points and 10.6 rebounds in 31.7 minutes of action per game this season.

With the Blue Demons’ second leading scorer out for Saturday’s game, sophomore forward Darious Hall got his first start of the season.

After junior guard Charlie Moore opened the game with a basket, Butler then asserted its offensive dominance by scoring 16 of the next 18 points. In that span, the Bulldogs hit two 3-pointers thanks to Sean McDermott.

DePaul’s offense, on the other hand, gave away the ball seven times in the first seven minutes, including four straight in a two-minute span. In their previous game against Xavier, the Blue Demons turned the ball over 22 times in a 78-67 loss. 

After the poor start for the visitors, DePaul didn’t give the ball away once for the rest of the half. Butler, who started the game 2-of-4 from the 3-point line, went 1-of-9 from behind the arc in the final seven minutes of the first half. 

DePaul began clawing its way back into the game by limiting the Bulldogs to only shot on defense, and then attacking Butler inside on offense. In the first half, the Blue Demons scored 16 of its 22 points in the paint. 

After Butler took a 21-10 lead with 8:14 to play in the half, DePaul went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to only five points. Moore led the Blue Demons with four points during that run, while freshman forward Nick Ongenda scored on a layup. 

DePaul managed to get within three, 23-20, after a dunk by Hall with 2:45 to play in the half. But the home team responded by going on a 6-0 run before the Blue Demons closed the half with two free throws from senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands.

After only shooting 34,9 percent from the field and going 0-of-5 from behind the arc, DePaul only trailed 29-22 at the break. The second half, however, proved to be even more problematic for the Blue Demons. DePaul opened the half with four misses and three turnovers before freshman forward Romeo Weems got his team on the board.

Butler, however, started to pull away from the Blue Demons early in the second half. The Bulldogs took advantage of DePaul’s turnovers by scoring 17 points off of the Blue Demons’ 10 turnovers in the second half. Butler also found its shooting touch from behind the arc, with the Bulldogs going 4-of-14 from the 3-point line in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

After junior forward Jaylen Butz got rejected at the rim, Butler’s Jordan Tucker hit his second straight three to put his team up 50-32 with eight minutes to play in the game. DePaul’s offense, however, continued to struggle with turnovers and creating good looks at the rim. For the second half, DePaul shot 9-of-28 from the field and 1-of-7 from the 3-point line.

“You know, if you look at the stats, Romeo made a three at the end of the game and that was the only one we made, we talked about needing to make perimeter shots,” Leitao said. 

Tucker would go on to hit his third consecutive three, which put the Bulldogs up 53-32 with six minutes to play in the game. DePaul went on a three-minute scoring drought before a Hall free throw got the Blue Demons to 33 points. The Blue Demons failed to put together any sort of deep run in the final five minutes, with Butler being able to hang onto a double-digit lead the rest of the way. 

Not one DePaul player finished the game in double-figures, with Moore and Ongenda each having eight points. The Blue Demons also finished with 17 turnovers, and the 42 points against Butler is DePaul’s fewest amount of Big East points since Leitao was hired in 2015.

“We’ve been talking about [turnovers] all year long,” Leitao said. “That’s just something that really hurt us today.” 

The Blue Demons will play their final home game of the season when Marque, we get tte comes into Wintrust Arena on Tuesday. DePaul is now 14-15 on the season and 2-14 in the Big East.