Poor offensive execution costs DePaul a win over Seton Hall


Seton Hall athletics

DePaul junior forward Darious Hall goes up for a layup against Seton Hall on Wednesday.

DePaul men’s basketball has seen a similar story play out in a lot of its Big East games this season: Hold a lead for most of the game, outplay their opponent for about 35 minutes, only to let poor offensive execution come back to bit them in the end and turn the final result into a loss.

That same exact script played itself out on Wednesday when the Blue Demons lost 60-52 to Seton Hall at the Prudential Center.

I thought for those 39, even plus, minutes that we battled,” DePaul men’s basketball head coach Dave Leitao said. “I think we have talked about it over the course of the year our turnovers, especially at inopportune times, is what would cost us at the end.”

The Blue Demons were playing without their two leading scorers, Charlie Moore (left knee injury) and Javon Freeman-Liberty (concussion protocols), against a tough Pirates team. But DePaul was able to hang with Seton Hall for most of the game thanks to solid defense. 

Even though it was DePaul missing its two best scorers, it were the Pirates who couldn’t make a shot in the first 10 minutes of the game. Besides a 3-pointer from Sandro Mamukelashvili to start the game, Seton Hall did not score for another six minutes. 

The Blue Demons used that to their advantage and were able to open up a 8-3 lead, eventually taking a 13-5 lead before the Pirates got going. Sophomore forward Romeo Weems and freshman guard Kobe Elvis were leading the charge early on for DePaul, scoring 11 of the team’s first 21 points.

Following DePaul taking its largest lead of the game, 21-14, the Pirates poured in eight straight points to take a 22-21 lead. DePaul was able to close out the first half on a positive note, with senior guard Ray Salnave knocking down a long-range 3-pointer to give his team a 31-27 lead going into the break.

DePaul used its physicality to its advantage in the first half, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds and scoring 12 second chance points. They also scored 18 points in the paint. The one negative, however, were the 11 turnovers.

But the collapse for the Blue Demons came in the second half just when it seemed like they could pull off an upset over Seton Hall. 

It started to look like DePaul’s night when they went on a 7-0 run to take a 46-42 lead with 11:43 to play in the game, only for the Pirates to go on a 9-0 run and grab a 51-46 lead.

From that point on, Leitao’s team could not buy a basket. They only scored six points in the final 11:43, all of them coming from senior forward Pauly Paulicap. 

“We got to execute better particularly when you get [to the] later stage of the game,” Leitao said. “I thought for most of the game Kobe [Elvis] handled the team really well. I thought he got a little bit less aggressive, but that’s the first he’s ever been in that spot. The last thing I’ll do is put it on any of those guys shoulders.

“Seton Hall is really good because they have been good for a while. If you take Reynolds, for instance, he’s been at this for three or four years constantly, as [Myles] Cale has. That situation is nothing new to them on offense or defense. It’s a pretty brand new situation for Kobe or even Ray [Salnave] because he’s been with us spots of half a year. The late stages of any game that you play, if you watch basketball as much as I do, it’s those experienced players that make those experienced plays.” 

Leitao had two opportunities to draw up two plays that could have tied the game at 55-55, but both plays resulted in misses. The first one was an air-ball from junior forward Darious Hall, and the second one was a 3-point miss from freshman forward David Jones.

DePaul did not score in the final 3:57, missing its last five shots and having three turnovers in that stretch. Paulicap led the Blue Demons with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Elvis chipped in with 13 points. 

The Blue Demons have now dropped five consecutive games, giving them a 3-10 overall record and 1-10 in the Big East. DePaul continues its three-game road trip on Saturday when they face St. John’s.