Chicago, IL — The Xavier Musketeers were looking for their first signature of the season.
The DePaul Blue Demons were having none of it. Behind a monster game from junior Mart'e Grays, the Blue Demons hushed the Musketeers 79-48 on Friday night.
Xavier came into Friday's game on a four-game losing streak, while DePaul, on the other hand, was going into Wintrust Arena with a two-game winning streak.
The Musketeers, with six freshman playing heavy minutes, were not very aggressive in the first quarter as they had two shot clock violations. In contrast, the Blue Demons tore up the court, finishing the first quarter up 16-9, partially due to their aggressiveness on the boards.
DePaul’s craving for offensive boards led them to 14 offensive rebounds for the game (14 second-chance points). The Blue Demon defense was air-tight as well, pulling down 30 defensive rebounds for a total of 44 overall.
“I think our pressure definitely helped us, our defense led to break away layups and open shots," DePaul guard Kelly Campbell said after the game.
Led by a balanced offensive attack, DePaul owned the second quarter as well, leaving the first half up 34-24. Grays, who had five straight games in double-figure points, made it six in the first half alone, with 12 at halftime.
Only down by ten at halftime, Xavier was ready to come back fighting after coming out of the locker room. But DePaul, ready to put the game out of reach, came out of the locker room determined to extend the lead. A 16-3 run, accentuated by back-to-back threes from Campbell and Grays, put DePaul up 50-39, a lead that would not be extinguished.
DePaul head coach Doug Bruno was beyond impressed with the effort he saw on the floor.
“I thought we were really focused tonight," Bruno said.
Trying to beat DePaul's full-court press, Xavier could only pass by it with tough and quick passes, which they realized during the third quarter -- which was too late. For the game as a whole, Xavier scored ZERO fast break points, which DePaul's Campbell credits to a focus on defense.
“Defense has been a big emphasis for us in these past couple games," Campbell said.
As the fourth quarter started with a score of 61-35, Xavier went on a cold streak. With five minutes left, the Musketeers were 0-for-5 in the quarter. With DePaul's Vinisha Sherrod making back-to-back threes late in the game, Xavier knew it was out of reach, taking out all their starters.
The Xavier Musketeers could not handle DePaul’s tough double team pressure and full court press, committing 19 turnovers (13 in the second half), with DePaul scoring 17 points off those turnovers.
DePaul got their fifth consecutive Big East win tonight, and will go for a sixth when they face the Butler Bulldogs on Jan. 14 back in the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
With the loss, Xavier now trails the all-time series 15-1, with their lone win coming in in 1984 (82-72).
Xavier will look to erase Friday night's game from memory when take on Marquette in Wisconsin on Sunday at 3 pm.
Posted by Swish Appeal on Friday, January 12, 2018