Graduate forward Eral Penn hangs his head in frustration during DePaul’s 38-point loss to Northwestern Saturday. The margin of defeat is the largest since the Demons’ 93-55 loss to Providence in March 2020. (Patrick Sloan-Turner)
Graduate forward Eral Penn hangs his head in frustration during DePaul’s 38-point loss to Northwestern Saturday. The margin of defeat is the largest since the Demons’ 93-55 loss to Providence in March 2020.

Patrick Sloan-Turner

Demon defeat: NU crushes DePaul by largest point-spread in series history

December 18, 2022

Saturday’s 83-45 loss at Northwestern is one head coach Tony Stubblefield and his team are going to want to quickly forget. The 38-point loss is the greatest deficit of the season, and largest loss of the Stubblefield era. It’s also the largest margin of loss in the 36-game history between DePaul and its rivals 10 miles to the north. 

Things were looking ugly from the start, after the Wildcats opened the game on a 22-5 run. With DePaul’s lack of interior presence they quickly found out they were going to have to live or die by the three. 

Forward Eral Penn drives to the basket in Saturday’s loss to Northwest at Walsh-Ryan Arena. Penn finished with 11 points and six rebounds. (Patrick Sloan-Turner)

Northwestern’s seven-footer, junior Matthew Nicholson, and fellow Wildcats forward senior Robbie Beran caused problems. The home team’s bigs limited DePaul on the defensive end, holding DePaul to  only 18 points in the paint, and out rebounding the Blue Demons 43 to 33. Northwestern came up with 15 second-chance points to DePaul’s four in the game. 

“I told these guys [before the game] that Northwestern will be by far the best team that we have played up to this point this year, with their experience and obviously that proved [true],” Stubblefield said. “We just did not do a good job of fighting it, and that’s on me as the coach to have these guys more prepared.” 

Defensively, the Blue Demons also had no answer for the Northwestern three, and offensively had little success in matching them. The Wildcats made 13 threes in the game, eight of which came in the first half, while DePaul only had six total in the game. 

The true tale of the game was the Blue Demons’ embarrassing number of turnovers in the game. With a total of 22 turnovers, DePaul finished with more turnovers than field goals made, at 16. 

“You turn the ball over 22 times against a team that doesn’t press you, you’re not giving yourself a chance to win the basketball game,” Stubblefield said. “So again, I take the blame for this, the preparation, lack of fight.”

Graduate guard Umoja Gibson lays the ball in during the first half of DePaul’s loss to Northwestern. (Patrick Sloan-Turner)

DePaul’s duo of Javan Johnson and Umoja Gibson were never able to get going against Northwestern’s Big Ten-leading defense. Stubblefield’s team often looked overwhelmed and like they had let the moment get the best of them. 

Even when DePaul found mild success and were eating into Northwestern’s lead, it was one step forward, two steps backwards. 

In the first half senior Philmon Gebrewhit made a corner three and turned around to exchange words with Northwestern senior Chase Audige. The altercation gave Gebrewhit a technical foul just as DePaul was possibly climbing back into the game. 

“You can’t get caught up in all of that,” Stubblefield said. “We are trying to get back into the game, I don’t know what you could be saying. That isn’t the time or the place for it.” 

While there were very few positive takeaways from the near 40-point loss, the game showed signs that DePaul’s transfers are playing with increased consistency and growth, now 12 games into the season. 

Graduate forward Eral Penn notched his third-straight game with 10 or more points, while also tying his season-best three blocks on Saturday. Junior Da’Sean Nelson has been a significant contributor to DePaul’s frontcourt after Nick Ongenda and Yor Anei’s injuries. Nelson collected a game-high nine rebounds in Evanston Saturday. 

Junior forward Da’Sean Nelson throws down a dunk over Northwestern defenders in DePaul’s loss Saturday. Nelson had a team-high nine rebounds but committed six turnovers against the Wildcats. (Patrick Sloan-Turner)

Northwestern’s Audige was a handful for DePaul on both ends of the court. Recording a new career-high of 28-points on Saturday, Audige was able to get anything and everything he wanted against the Blue Demons. He also accounted for five of 14 Northwestern steals. 

After the game, Northwestern head coach Chris Collins spoke about the rivalry between the two teams. Saturday was the first meeting since 2019, where DePaul won 83-78. The past two scheduled meetings were canceled due to covid-19 safety measures. 

“It’s a great game that needs to be played,” Collins said. “We kind of always set it up to where it’s right before Christmas [there have always been] good atmospheres. It’s a game that makes sense for a lot of fans for the programs.” 

When asked if there were any new updates available for the status of Caleb Murphy, Nick Ongenda and Yor Anei, Stubblefield said that it is going to be a while. Murphy has been cleared from the wrist injury, but is still going through some tests as they deal with a new undisclosed issue. 

The Blue Demons’ schedule now shifts to Big East play. After two disappointing losses, with Saturday’s being the worst since March 2020, DePaul will travel to Omaha and look to turn things around against Creighton. The Blue Jays were ranked No. 9 in the country preseason, but with five-straight losses, have struggled as of late. 

The game on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, is the only scheduled game on the college basketball slate for the day. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 CST and can be viewed on FOX. 

Gallery: DePaul at Northwestern 12/17/2022

The DePaulia • Copyright 2023 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in