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Garrett displays moxie in comeback win over Providence

In his three-plus seasons in a Blue Demons’ uniform, Billy Garrett Jr. has wrestled with a sufficient amount of disappointment, enduring a 41-72 mark over that span. 

Nevertheless, after exiting the locker room on Wednesday evening, the senior deservedly stood in a pool of satisfaction. Once again, he exhibited a heroic effort, lifting DePaul (8-9, 1-3 Big East) to a 64-63 victory over Providence (11-7, 1-4). 

Trailing by one with under 10 seconds to go in the contest, Tre'Darius McCallum tiptoed a foot away from the baseline to pick up a loose ball, thanks to Friars’ forward Rodney Bullock’s inability to corral a pass at halfcourt. McCallum then fed Garrett Jr., who viciously attacked the paint without hesitation and converted a game-winning, and-one layup off the glass. 

“He’s (Garrett Jr.) a very calm and cool customer in life, and he duplicates that during games,” head coach Dave Leitao said postgame. “He believes in himself, but he’s not boisterous about his personality or what he can do. That comes through in end of the game situations like that.” 

Garrett Jr.’s ensuing free-throw handed the Blue Demons a one-point edge with 4.7 ticks remaining. It was the team’s first advantage since a petite 46-second span midway through the first half. 

In total, the point guard hit 7-of-8 attempts at the line, shifting his free-throw percentage to a rock-solid 91.8 percent. He’s currently tied for No. 15 in the nation within that category. 

“No matter how much time is on the clock, all free throws are the same (for me),” Garrett Jr. said. 

For the Morgan Park High School product, a seemingly replica version of the aforementioned play occurred a campaign ago in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Tied at 56 apiece with eight seconds left, Garrett Jr. drove into the lane for an and-one, reverse layup to defeat archrival Marquette 57-56. 

In that sequence, Golden Eagles’ forward Luke Fisher was tagged with the foul. Against Providence, the 6-foot-6, 213-pounder victimized Bullock, who couldn’t establish his feet outside of the restricted area in time.

“I just got to the basket and saw he (Bullock) was in the charge circle,” he said. “And-one game winners don’t happen that much, and I’ve got two of ‘em.” 

DePaul almost saw their first conference win deflate away, though, as Friars’ guard Kyron Cartwright nearly finished a last-second lay-in of his own at the final horn. 

Earlier in the season, Garrett Jr. also delivered a dose of excitement in the waning seconds of the Blue Demons’ first matchup versus Missouri State. His buzzer-beating jumper stamped a thrilling comeback, in which he and his co-workers overcame a 13-point second half deficit to pull off a 68-66 win. He says that shot ranks the highest among his clutch moments of his collegiate career.

Prior to the latest celebration, Providence grasped a nine-point cushion with two minutes to go. Yet, the upperclassman flexed his aforementioned perseverance, generating seven of his team-high 14 points in the final 28 seconds. 

“The guys (his teammates) trusted me and told me (down the stretch), ‘This is your time to help us win the game,’” he said. 

Following the victory, Garrett Jr.’s prolonged smile exhibited delight towards the slaying of a feisty conference foe. But in order for DePaul to build upon this momentum, he can’t abandon his killer instinct anytime soon. 

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