Blue Demons Drop First Road Game

It was a hard fought battle on the basketball court for both the Northern Illinois Huskies and DePaul Blue Demons in Dekalb on Monday night. In the end it was the Huskies that won the battle 77-68.

The game was close throughout with DePaul edging out Northern with a 31-29 lead at halftime. NIU held DePaul scoreless through a four minute stretch in the second half to jump out to a 43-37 lead with 12 minutes remaining. DePaul then fought back. Things were all tied up at 62-62 with 3:27 left. At that point NIU coach Rob Judson called a timeout and designed a three point play for forward Todd Peterson. "It was a set play," said Peterson. "Mike (McKinney) came down and set a great screen for me. Really got me open. Anthony (Maestranzi) delivered it on time. Luckily I hit it."

DePaul had no answer tonight for NIU big man James Hughes who finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds and took home the Jay Goedert Memorial trophy as the Most Valuable Player. The award is named in honor of former DePaul and NIU assistant coach Jay Goedert who passed away in July of 2004 at the age of 44. Goedert's wife Sue was in Dekalb for the presentation of the trophy. "I thought the young man Hughes played well and was deserving," said Blue Demons coach Jerry Wainwright.

Down the stretch, Judson wisely inserted his best free throw shooters. Anthony Maestranzi and Zach Pancratz were perfect from the free throw line during the final minute as DePaul fouled in desperation. Wainwright applauded Maestranzi's leadership and felt he was the difference in the game. "I thought he really was a great leader," expressed Wainwright. "He really kept his team together. He really showed what a senior should do."

"We tried to drive the ball, yet we only went to the free throw line twelve times," observed Wainwright. "You have to adjust to how games are called. We were beaten tonight, we didn't lose. I thought our first game we lost."

Guard Sammy Mejia led DePaul with 12 points. "I come to each game expecting to win," said Mejia. "Not winning is obviously a disappointment. There were four or five times where they scored at the end of the shot clock."

"Our team was able to be successful tonight, because of practice last week," said Judson. "We didn't have a great experience in Missouri and then we got back and really went to work in practice particularly on the defensive end of the court."

The story of this game was rebounding. DePaul outrebounded the Huskies 20-14 in the first half, yet NIU dominated the boards 22 to 9 in the second half. "I thought the key to the game was our rebounding in the second half," remarked Judson. "DePaul had far too many offensive rebounds in the first half."

Official Box Score

We Are DePaul Top Stories