Men’s basketball: DePaul uses second half run to pull away from Duquesne


Maddy Maes

DePaul senior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty goes up for a layup against Duquesne on Tuesday at Wintrust Arena.

DePaul had a rough start to the game, shooting only 28 percent from the field. But the team picked up the pace and took home the victory against Duquesne 87-67. The win improves the team with a 7-1 record and ends their eight-game homestand on a positive note.

Graduate forward Brandon Johnson began the scoring for DePaul with five quick points. Due to a couple unforced turnovers, Duquesne scored back-to-back three point field goals that gave them an 8-6 lead before the first timeout of the game. Junior center Nick Ongenda drew the foul coming out of the break and sunk both free throws to tie the game at eight. Ongenda then followed up with a right hook-shot to give DePaul the 10-8 lead with 14 minutes left in the first half. 

Senior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty hits a mid range jump-shot to keep DePaul with a 12-10 lead. Jones later jab steps his way to a layup to give DePaul a 14-10 lead. DePaul goes through a shooting drought, not making a shot for the next 3 minutes and Duquesne goes on a 8-0 run to give them a 18-14 lead. 

Junior guard Philmon Gebrewhit scores on a driving layup to stop the run, cutting the deficit to two. Freeman-Liberty steals the ball and scores a transition layup to tie the game at 18 coming out of the break. Sophomore Jalen Terry comes off the screen and hits a floater to give the team a 20-19 lead. Off the Freeman-Liberty block, Terry catches the transition pass to dunk in transition. Gebrewhit followed up a corner three-point shot in the next offensive possession to give DePaul the lead 25-23 before the last break of the half. Senior guard Courviosier McCauley and Terry shot back-to-back three point field goals to give the team a 31-25 lead.

The team ended up hitting four of their last 5 field goals, including three straight before Freeman-Liberty that included a three pointer to end the half with a 36-30 lead. Terry and Freeman-Liberty lead the way with seven points each. Gebrewhit was right behind with 6 points.  The team finished the half shooting 42 percent from the field and 41 percent from the three-point line. 

DePaul ramped up the defensive effort and found its rhythm offensively, beginning to pull the game away from Duquesne. Grebrewhit started the second half with a transition layup off a steal and Freeman-Liberty converted on an “And-1” play off his original miss to give DePaul the 41-37 lead. Next, Ongenda sprinted down the floor to get a fast-break dunk and Freeman-Liberty scored a layup off a Duquesne made basket to give the team a 45-41 lead before the first break of the second half. Ongenda comes out of the break with an “And-1” to give the team a 50-44 lead.

Maddy Maes

Freeman-Liberty began to take over the game and provided DePaul a big spark on the offensive end, scoring nine of the team’s 11 points including a 9-0 run over a three minute span to give the team a 63-52 lead with 7:30 left in the game. Johnson joined the party with two three-point baskets of his own and Freeman-Liberty continued his offensive efforts afterwards with a deep three-point shot and scoring on a one-man fast-break to add to DePaul’s lead.

DePaul ran away with the game, sealing the 87-67 victory. Freeman-Liberty led the way with 26 points and nine rebounds. Johnson and Ongenda both contributed 13 points each. 

Freeman-Liberty made an impact not just offensively but defensively, especially regarding perimeter defense. Johnson discussed the impact Freeman-Liberty brings to the team on both ends of the floor.

“[Freeman-Liberty] is everywhere honestly,” Johnson said. “He has a major impact on the offensive end. Defensively, he does what a senior is supposed to do. He talks to everyone and tries to get everyone in the right positions. He is an overall great teammate.” 

Terry played a key role in the team’s second half surge, starting the second half in place of Johnson due to Johnson’s foul trouble. He contributed seven points and seven rebounds. Head coach Tony Stubblefield discussed the impact Terry brought to the team that helped put DePaul in stride for their second half performance.

“With Terry out there, he changes the flow of the game from a defensive standpoint with his ability to to pressure the basketball and push the basketball,” Stubblefield said. “It also allowed Freeman-Liberty to play off the ball as well.”

Stubblefield was happy that the team shared the ball and made shots, but he was more pleased with the team’s defensive pressure that helped spark a 30-15 run in the last 10 minutes of the second half.

“We were sharing the ball and getting good shots, but it was more so defensively being able to get stops,” Stubblefield said. “We were getting the initial stop but were not finishing the play with a rebound. So once we finished the plays and got the rebounds we were able to get points in transition and our guys did a good job of sharing the ball.” 

DePaul is now preparing to go on the road for the first time this season. Johnson believes a key to the game will be the team having to bring their own energy. 

“We got to bring our own energy,” Johnson said. “We are not going to be at Wintrust and we will not have the fans around us. Our crowd has to be everyone from the bench and we cannot have sad faces when things are not going our way. We got to remain positive throughout the entire 40 minutes of the game.”

The Blue Demons’ next game will be played at Louisville on Friday at 7:00 pm CST on the ACC Network.