Short-handed DePaul squad drops third straight with loss to TAMU


DePaul Athletics

Graduate forward Eral Penn attempts a shot in DePaul’s 82-66 loss to Texas A&M on 11/25.

DePaul men’s basketball’s losing streak continued after losing to Texas A&M on Friday afternoon by a score of 82-66. The Blue Demons have lost three consecutive games after starting off the season 3-0.

“Well, you know obviously we struggled this afternoon,” head coach Tony Stubblefield said. “I didn’t think we could sustain anything or get anything going from an offensive standpoint. I think we’ve given up too many second chance opportunities, so that’s something that we’ve got to clean up as well.”

DePaul continues to play short-handed. Three Blue Demons did not dress again due to injury, which include Nick Ongenda (hand), Caleb Murphy (wrist) and Yor Anei (foot). Their return to action remains undetermined with no new updates at this time.

Graduate transfer Eral Penn has filled in at the center position since Ongenda and Anei have been out. Friday’s loss didn’t have many bright spots, but against tougher competition, Penn held his own against a big Texas A&M squad.

Penn recorded his third double-double on the season, scoring 21 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting 7-for-13 from the field.

“Eral [Penn] is playing extremely hard,” Stubblefield said. “He’s giving us everything he can, and we’re asking him to do things that we didn’t envision him doing when he came here. He’s had to step into this position without Nick [Ongenda] and Yor [Anei] and he’s playing his hardest out there.”

Texas A&M controlled the first half, outscoring DePaul 38-27, due to an early 15-8 A&M run that the Blue Demons couldn’t overcome. The Aggies shot 43.8% from the field and 35.7% from beyond the arc in the first half.

DePaul has trailed going into halftime in each of its last three games, resulting in losses, and the team has really struggled to get off to a fast start against tougher competition.

“We’re trying to figure it out,” Stubblefield said of the team’s slow start to games. “Getting out to faster starts is something we’ve talked about and you know, I think our guys had some good looks to start the game, but unfortunately they didn’t go down, but again, you can’t let that affect your energy level on the defensive end. You still have to get stops and rebound. We have to find a way to win games when we’re not making shots.”

The biggest surprise of the first half for the Blue Demons was graduate forward Javan Johnson being held scoreless by the Aggies.

“I was getting good looks that I usually knock down and make,” Johnson said. “I’m going to continue to take those shots.”

DePaul started to pick up the pace in the second half but were outscored 44-39, which was an improvement, but unfortunately it was too little, too late. DePaul’s defense had no answer for Texas A&M guards Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor IV, who combined for 52 of the Aggies 82 points.

Radford especially caused a lot of issues for DePaul, finishing the game with 31 points, five rebounds and two assists, along with shooting four-of-five from beyond the arc. 

“I didn’t think it’d be 31,” Stubblefield said of Radford’s 31-point performance. “He shot the ball extremely well and when guys get hot and get going, it’s hard to contain it and he had it going tonight, he’s a bigger, stronger guard. He shot the ball extremely well and when a player is shooting that well, they are hard to contain.”

Friday’s 16-point home loss to Texas A&M was arguably DePaul’s worst performance of the season, and losing three straight games this early in the year isn’t always easy to come back from short-handed or not.

“We have to come out harder from the start and defend,” Penn said. “We have to find a way because it is what it is without Nick [Ongenda] and Yor [Anei]. They aren’t going to feel sorry for us, so we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We must continue to find a way.”

Stubblefield said the team understands that if they want to come out on the winning side of these types of games, they will need to come out with more energy and not wait until the second half to click. 

“Me,” Stubblefield said after being asked who the team should turn to from a leadership standpoint to ignite a spark of energy before games. “I’ve got to get these guys to come out with more energy and more focus. It isn’t on them. It’s on me as a coach to get them ready to go to start the game.”

DePaul (3-3) will continue their homestand Wednesday when they host Samford (6-1) at Wintrust Arena with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m. CST.