DePaul gets crushed by Providence 93-55 in regular-season finale

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Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Charlie Moore and Jalen Coleman-Lands look in disbelieve during DePaul’s game against Villanova on Feb. 19 at Wintrust Arena.

A college basketball season doesn’t seem so long, in fact it’s only four months long, but there are plenty of twists and turns throughout that four-month long marathon. Take DePaul and Providence for example — the Blue Demons began the season winning 12 of their first 13 games, while the Friars only started out 7-6. DePaul went into Big East play with NCAA Tournament aspirations, while Providence was shooting for a respectable performance in the conference. 

In conference play, however, DePaul went 3-15 and finished in last place in the Big East, and Providence finished at 12-6 and put themselves in a position to make the NCAA Tournament. In their final meeting of the season, the Friars stomped the Blue Demons 93-55 on Saturday to secure a 12-6 Big East finish.

When the two sides met at Wintrust Arena Jan. 4, Providence broke DePaul’s hearts with a game-winning free-throw by Nate Watson to win 66-65. Since then, the Blue Demons have only won three conference games, while the Friars have won nine games to finish fourth in the Big East. In the month of February, Providence went 6-2 including five wins over ranked opponents. 

With the two teams going in opposite directions entering the regular-season finale, it was the Friars who put on a clinic in front of their supporters at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Providence wasted no time getting off to a hot start, with the home team scoring the first four points before junior guard Charlie Moore knocked down a 3-pointer.

The Blue Demons managed to keep it close in the first couple of minutes, with the Friars leading 9-7 after four straight points from junior forward Jaylen Butz. But that’s when the separation began to grow between the two sides. The Friars scored nine of the next 11 points to take an 18-9 lead, but the advantage would keep increasing for the home team.

After the Blue Demons got within eight, 23-15, Providence went on a 6-0 run to take a 14-point lead. The offensive struggles would continue for the visitors, only scoring four points in a nine-minute stretch. Providence, however, took that cold streak from DePaul and turned it into a 26-point lead, 45-19, with 2:35 to play in the first half.

Senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer, but Providence closed out the final two minutes on a 10-3 run to take an 55-25 lead into the break. 55 points is the most the Blue Demons have allowed in a half this season. 

DePaul was also playing without junior forward Paul Reed, who has a hip pointer injury, for the third straight game. Sophomore guard Darious Hall got his third consecutive start, scoring two points and grabbing six rebounds in the first half. 

The second half would only get worse head coach Dave Leitao and the Blue Demons. Moore was the only reliable DePaul player all night long, and he began the second half by scoring the Blue Demons’ first seven points. But Moore’s efforts did not close the gap, in fact, the Friars would continue to increase their lead over the course of the half. 

By the 12-minute mark in the second half, Providence was up 75-36 thanks to a balanced scoring effort from Alpha Diallo, Luwane Pipkins, Nate Watson, AJ Reeves and David Duke. All five starters finished the game in double digits, with Reeves leading the team with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting. 

Providence kept attacking the Blue Demons inside, scoring 36 points in the paint to 30 points from behind the arc. The Friars also scored 23 points off 16 DePaul turnovers. The night kept getting worse for Leitao’s team, as Providence eventually took a 43-point advantage thanks to a 6-0 run towards the end of the game.

DePaul finished the game on a 7-0 run to make the final scoreline 93-55, but it’s still the worst loss in the Leitao tenure. Moore finished the game with 14 points and six assists, while freshman forward Nick Ongenda added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Freshman guard Markese Jacobs also seemed to hurt his right knee at the end of the game. 

The Blue Demons finish the regular-season with an overall record of 15-16 and 3-15 in the Big East, which is good enough for their fourth straight last place in the conference. DePaul will play either Xavier or Marquette in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.