DePaul falls short to Providence in double overtime


Photo courtesy of Providence Athletics

DePaul junior guard Charlie Moore looks to get past a Providence player on Sunday.

DePaul hasn’t fared particularly well in Big East openers the last couple of years, specifically losing five straight by an average of 10 points. 

But the Blue Demons, who have only played one game so far this season because of Covid-19 issues in the program, had a chance to snap that streak at Providence on Sunday.

DePaul, however, failed to close the deal in the second half and in the first overtime, which allowed the Friars to win the game, 95-90, in double overtime.

“We played a resilient game, as did Providence,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said. “I think as you got into the end of the game, the first overtime and the second overtime, the plays that had to be made they made more than we did — and in spite of our scratching, clawing and fighting. We put ourselves in position, but obviously did not come through with a victory.”

Sophomore forward Romeo Weems, who was making his first appearance of the season on Sunday after being out against Western Illinois because of Covid-19 safety protocols, knocked down a 3-pointer to give DePaul a 72-71 lead with 51 seconds to play in the second half. 

The Blue Demons followed that up by forcing a missed Providence shot and then senior guard Charlie Moore got fouled with 16 seconds to play in the game. Moore, who finished the game with 19 points, knocked down both free throws to extend DePaul’s lead to three.

DePaul did not elect to foul Providence and the Friars’ junior guard A.J Reeves made the Blue Demons pay for it, as he knocked down a three to tie the game at 74. 

Leitao decided not to call a timeout with five seconds remaining and Moore’s long-distance three fell short. 

There was five seconds left, one thing if you had called a timeout there, they would have responded with full-court pressure,” Leitao said. “Was more broken offense against broken defense. With five seconds you should be able to go end-to-end and get to rim or at least close to it. But you have to have practiced that and we haven’t even had enough time to work on those specific game-ready situations that are part of basketball, particularly at the end of games.”

Weems again knocked down an important 3-pointer in the first overtime to tie the game at 79. He finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.

“Romeo has been off his feet basketball wise for over a week, closer to 10 days” Leitao said. “He had one practice yesterday, which wasn’t even a full scale practice. He came out and made five threes and played a whale of a game. That is a testament to his competitive spirit, his resilience and all the things you can use as reasons why you play well or, and a lot of cases, would not play well. Hopefully,  as we come together and learn and grow, he will be a big integral part of what we are able to do moving forward.”

After Providence’s Dave Duke converted on a layup to give his team a 83-81 lead, DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty connected with fellow transfer Pauly Paulicap to tie the game with 40 seconds to play.

The Blue Demons came up with another stop with 11 seconds to go, but Moore failed to get a shot up and the game went into a second overtime. DePaul freshman Kobe Elvis knocked down a 3-pointer early in the final overtime to give his team an 88-87 advantage, but that would be the final time DePaul had a lead in the game. 

Providence finished the game going on an 8-2 run to win its sixth game of the season and second conference game. DePaul falls to 1-1 on the season and has now lost six consecutive Big East openers. 

The Blue Demons have only played two games this season because of three different pauses forcing them to cancel or postpone their first 10 games. Even so, DePaul still played with a lot of effort and energy on Sunday, even though it was not enough to get the win. 

The Friars had multiple chances to put this game out of reach, but the Blue Demons were able to limit any big runs multiple times. Weems’ shooting in the first half was what kept DePaul in the game, as he had 10 points off the bench in the opening half. 

Both teams struggled to shoot in the first 20 minutes, with both sides combining for only three 3-point makes, but Providence held a 34-29 lead going into the break. 

That, however, changed in the second half as DePaul shot 60 percent from the field and Providence shot 45.2 percent. The Friars opened up a 47-39 lead early in the half, but a 16-5 run gave DePaul a 55-52 lead a couple of minutes later.

Moore hit multiple deep 3-pointers in the second half to help his team keep its momentum, including one from near half-court. DePaul had a four-point lead multiple times in the half, but Providence came back both times with its own runs.

DePaul sophomore guard Oscar Lopez Jr. had to leave the game in the second half because of a right knee injury. Leitao said after the game that he does not have an update on Lopez’s status. 

Besides Weems’ and Moore’s high-scoring day, Freeman-Liberty added 13 points and Paulicap chipped in with 10 off the bench. 

The Blue Demons will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to face UConn.