DePaul (1-1) dropped their first game of the Oliver Purnell era in a frustrating 69-64 loss to the Western Carolina Catamounts (1-1) in Rosemont.
Western Carolina led from the open in this one and built up a 17-6 lead by the first timeout.
"Obviously we're disappointed in the first loss of the season," said Purnell. "We were hoping to build a little momentum. I thought early on, the area that gave us some problems is an area that's really plagued us in the preseason and even in our first game. That's the area of defensive rebounding. We gave them too many second opportunities early and we struggled from the free throw line also in the first half. That really gave them their working margin."
The Blue Demons were outrebounded by a 48-34 margin even though Purnell had stressed gang rebounding as a key to the game coming in.
"There is not a focus on blocking out every single time and not a focus on five guys that have to rebound every time for us," said Purnell.
The Catamounts, who never trailed in the contest, have a familiarity with Purnell's style of ball.
"I played against Coach Purnell's teams a number of different times when he was at Dayton and also Clemson," said Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter. "We didn't know exactly what his players were like, but we had a feel for the system."
Western Carolina led by as many as 21 points with 16:30 to go in the game. Yet DePaul was able to scratch and claw their way back but could never get closer than a five point deficit.
"The lesson to be learned tonight is that a 20 point deficit is not insurmountable at all in our style of play with seven or eight minutes to play," said Purnell.
The other lesson that the Demons learned tonight is they can't afford to dig themselves a hole early on.
"I think we just got to get off to a better start overall," said junior guard Jeremiah Kelly.
"The biggest lesson to take away from this game is that at all times we got to stay together and fight as a team," said freshman point guard Brandon Young. "We can't take plays off and we just got to stay together."
Young led DePaul with 16 points on six of 10 shooting from the field, including four of seven from the free throw line, five assists, and three steals.
"I thought he took a step forward," Purnell said of Young. "I thought he got really relaxed in the second half even though he was being very aggressive. As evidence of that he goes to the line and settles in like you want your point guard to. He gets fouled going to the basket, he scores points for us with the clock stopped. I thought he got relaxed and at the same time was in attacking mode."
The only other Demon to finish in double-figures was center Krys Faber with 10 points.
Western Carolina was led by guards Harouna Mutombo (17 points), Mike Williams (13 points), and Brandon Boggs (10 points).
- This was Western Carolina's second upset of a Big East team in as many seasons. The Catamounts defeated Louisville 91-83 at home last season.
- DePaul will take the next couple days off from basketball for final exams.
- DePaul has nine days to prepare for their Thanksgiving Day battle with Oklahoma State in the opening round of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, California.
Western Carolina Frustrates DePaul
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