DePaul suffers 20-point loss to Marquette in front of sold out Wintrust crowd


Eva Epley

Junior guard Caleb Murphy dribbles toward the basket in DePaul’s home loss to Marquette at Wintrust Arena Saturday.

DePaul suffered a 20-point blowout loss at Wintrust Arena Saturday night, resulting in its eighth conference defeat of the season after losing, 89-69 against Marquette. 

The Golden Eagles were led by sophomore forward David Joplin’s career-high 28-point day. The Blue Demons fall to 9-13 on the season and 3-8 in Big East play.

Coming into Saturday’s game, it was no secret that the Golden Eagles offense was elite and Stubblefield’s defense would be in for a long day if they could not hold it at bay. Marquette leads the Big East in scoring at 82 points per game, while shooting 50% from the field. 

“We got beat by a very good basketball team,” head coach Tony Stubblefield said. “It’s easy to see why they’re very well connected and they know their roles and who they are as a team. They play extremely hard and can hurt you in a lot of different ways.”

DePaul played Marquette tough in the first half, trailing halftime 33-32. Graduate forward Javan Johnson led the way for DePaul in the first 20 minutes, recording eight points, three rebounds and two assists, while connecting on two three-pointers.

Johnson disappeared in the second half, scoring just two points and shooting 1-for-6 from the field. The team continues to live or die off the success of Johnson. During losses this season, Johnson has been held to 11 points per game. When they win, he scores around 22 points per game.

“We really wanted to at least try to make things tough for him and if he made a shot, we wanted to make it a really tough shot,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “He’s a good player and has good size, but we were rotating different guys. Those guys deserve a lot of credit for how hard they played against Gibson and Johnson, and those are two really good scorers in our league”

Marquette controlled the game from start to finish in the second half, never giving up the lead and out-scoring the Blue Demons 56-37. DePaul only led for 29 seconds during Saturday’s matchup.

“I don’t know if they necessarily made any changes,” Stubblefield said of Marquette’s second half performance. “They’re a very good offensive team and the best offensive team in the country according to the statistics. Once you let them get into a rhythm, they’re very difficult to guard.” 

Outside of graduate guard Umoja Gibson, DePaul’s offense was stagnant with their second leading scorer in Johnson only recording 10 points. Gibson finished the game scoring 25 points, three rebounds and two assists while making five-of-seven shots from beyond the arc.

Gibson has been DePaul’s most consistent player this season and has carried the Blue Demons’ offense night in, night out, while Johnson tends to disappear in big-time games.

“No, it wasn’t [because of] the offensive part,” Gibson said on whether the team is too reliant on his scoring. “It was the defensive part, and we just have to lock in defensively and get stops if we want to start winning games.”

The Golden Eagles’ perimeter shooting in the second half was nearly flawless as it seemed like everything was dropping. 

As a team, they made 11 three’s compared to DePaul’s five, with David Joplin connecting on six of Marquette’s 11 from beyond the arc. Joplin scored 28 points on Saturday against DePaul, while shooting an impressive 8-for-11 (72%) from beyond the arc.

“He’s a good basketball player,” Stubblefield said of Joplin’s 28-point performance. “He got some really open looks out there, and once he hit a couple of them, that basketball got really big.”

Once the clock hit zero, the Marquette bench could be seen celebrating and hyping up the crowd as Wintrust filled with cheers supporting the Golden Eagles throughout Wintrust Arena. Saturday’s game was supposed to be a road game for Marquette, but instead turned into a road game for DePaul.

“I thought I saw more blue,” Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy said. “Obviously, we want better results from it. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t help and the fans couldn’t help our team win the game. We want to have more of these [sell out games]. It should be something we can do very often.”

Three Blue Demons were sidelined, including Nick Ongenda (hand injury), Mo Sall (wrist injury) and Ahamad Bynum (suspended). Senior center Ongenda was reevaluated this past week and had his cast removed. He is expected to make his return to the court this season at some point.

“He did get his cast off, and he’s now in a splint,” Stubblefield said of Ongenda’s injury. “We’re hoping that he can get that hand back stronger and sooner rather than later and he could join us.”

DePaul (9-13, 3-8) will host No. 19 UConn (16-6, 5-6) on Tuesday night with tip-off scheduled at Wintrust Arena for 8:00 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on FS1.