Johnson and Gibson combine for 36 as DePaul loses, 81-65 to Villanova


DePaul Athletics

Graduate guard Umoja Gibson defends a Villanova player in DePaul’s away loss on Wednesday.

DePaul’s losing streak continued, now reaching seven games, after the Demons dropped Wednesday night’s matchup to Villanova by a score of 81-65. On its home court this time around, Villanova may have had its most complete game of the season, with five Wildcats scoring double-digit points against the Blue Demons. DePaul had the upper hand earlier this season, besting Villanova 75-65 at Wintrust Arena on Jan. 10.

As of late, DePaul has started off games strong, which was one of their deficiencies early on in the season. The Blue Demons 21-12 to start, led by seven early points from graduate forward Javan Johnson.

Johnson bounced back after having his worst performance of the season against Seton Hall when he was held scoreless last week. The team’s second-leading scorer ended Wednesday night with 18 points, two assists, two blocks and a rebound, while shooting 8-15 from the field and 2-6 from beyond the arc. 

DePaul led for just 15 minutes against Villanova, similar to its matchup against Seton Hall on Feb. 5, but Wednesday’s game proved a more back-and-forth contest. By the time the game concluded, it featured 11 lead changes and three ties between the two conference foes.

The Wildcats bounced back in the first half to take a 28-22 lead after going on an impressive 16-1 run against the Blue Demons that lasted for nearly seven minutes. Villanova led by three at halftime but pulled away late in the second half to secure the victory.

Around the 12-minute mark in the second half, DePaul trailed only by one, but a late-game offensive surge by the Wildcats was too much for head coach Tony Stubblefield and the Blue Demons to overcome. Villanova outscored DePaul in the second half, 44-31.

Graduate guard Umoja Gibson did his best to keep DePaul in it, but the Demons’ lack of scoring outside of Gibson and Johnson played a key factor in the loss Wednesday night. Both players combined for 36 of DePaul’s 65 points against the Wildcats.

Gibson recorded 18 points, three rebounds and assists each, while connecting on four-of-nine three-pointers. 

The Oklahoma transfer reached 2,000 career points against Villanova on Wednesday, making him the second active Division I player to do so. The matchup against the Wildcats also notched 150 career games played for Gibson.

Villanova was led by senior guard Caleb Daniels, who had a significant impact on the Wildcats’ lopsided victory. He recorded 18 points, shooting 70% from the field, while connecting with 4-5 from beyond the arc. Stubblefield’s defense struggled to contain Daniels all night and the boxscore proved it. 

Graduate forward Eral Penn struggled on Wednesday night, but he did surpass 800 rebounds, sitting at 804 in his career and nearing 200 on the season with 184.

DePaul falls to 9-16 on the season and 3-11 in Big East play. The Blue Demons seven-game losing streak is their longest under Stubblefield.

DePaul will return to Chicago for a matchup against St. John’s (14-11, 4-10) on Tuesday night with tip-off scheduled at Wintrust Arena for 8:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FS1.