DePaul’s offense struggles in 76-68 loss to Seton Hall


Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia

DePaul senior guard Charlie Moore scrambles for a loose ball against Seton Hall on Saturday at Wintrust Arena.

DePaul entered 2021 by having two games against St. John’s and Villanova postponed because of Covid-19 protocols in the Red Storm’s and Wildcats’ programs. 

So, the Blue Demons had to wait nine days before playing their first game in the new year. On Saturday, DePaul hosted Seton Hall and was looking for its first conference win of the season. 

But the Pirates’ strong defense and efficiency on offense gave the visitors a 76-68 win, giving the Blue Demons their third straight loss.

“The thing about Seton Hall that makes them really good, because they are experienced, is they don’t break — they may bend here and there, but they don’t break,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said. “Our spirit got a little broken, we put our heads down with consecutive things that went wrong, and it gave them a lead and now we were playing uphill the rest of the day.”

DePaul came into Saturday playing only three games this season because of Covid-19 issues in November and December. With a limited amount of practice time and only three games played, the Blue Demons had a lot of rust and bad offensive possessions against the Pirates. 

Both teams traded baskets in the first couple of minutes in the first half, but DePaul quickly got into foul trouble. Senior guard Charlie Moore picked up two fouls in the first six minutes and had to sit most of the half, while Romeo Weems, Ray Salnave and Pauly Paulicap also each had two fouls in the first 20 minutes.

“Statistics will tell you that they are the best team in this league, one of the best in the country, in drawing fouls, so that was my part of my message coming in about how to avoid fouling,” Leitao said. “We didn’t do a good job, especially in the first half. Our close outs in the first half should not be met with hands to the body because referees call that. They are a team that is a very lengthy, attacking team so they draw a lot of fouls.”

The Blue Demons also struggled with turnovers in the first half as they gave up the ball 12 times, while only knocking down 11 shots. Junior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty was the one keeping DePaul in the game with his 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. The next leading scorer was freshman guard Kobe Elvis, who added five points off the bench. 

“As one of the team leaders, I just feel like we needed to step it up a little bit and Charlie got those two early fouls, I was the main one,” Freeman-Liberty said.

DePaul junior forward Darious Hall goes for a reverse layup against Seton Hall on Saturday at Wintrust Arena. (Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia)

Seton Hall, on the other hand, had a very efficient first half, shooting 16-31 from the field and closing out the half on a 10-4 run to take a 40-28 lead into the break. 

The Pirates came out firing in the second half as they made their first six shots to extend their lead to 51, 55-34. DePaul, however, kept chipping away at the deficit by playing strong defense and looking to get out in transition. 

Junior guard Courvoisier McCauley knocked down the Blue Demons’ first 3-pointer of the game in the second half, extending the team’s streak of at least one three made to 842 games. Elvis then followed up by knocking down a shot from behind the arc and making it a 14-point game. 

Seton Hall’s offense fell off in the final nine minutes of the game as they went without hitting a shot in that stretch. The Blue Demons took advantage of the Pirates’ poor shooting and started to mount a comeback. 

DePaul went on a 7-0 run in a four-minute stretch to cut the deficit to six, 66-60, but that would be the closest the team would get to the Pirates. The Blue Demons’ offensive execution in key moments hurt them as they only knocked down two shots in the final five minutes. 

Seton Hall closed the game by hitting 16 straight free throws, which was enough to preserve its lead and walk out of Wintrust Arena with a victory. Freeman-Liberty led all scorers with 22 points, and Ongenda added 10 points. Weems finished the game with eight points and eight rebounds.  

The Blue Demons are now 1-3 and 0-3 in the Big East play, with their next game coming on Monday at Wintrust Arena against UConn.