DePaul Puts Creighton in a Funk

Relying on their perimeter defense the DePaul Blue Demons limited the Creighton Bluejays to 17% from behind the three point arc in their 72-57 men's basketball victory in Rosemont tonight.

Creighton had shot 43% from three point range last season, but were as cold as the Chicago weather from three tonight. Bluejay guard Nate Funk came into tonight's game averaging 21.3 points per game, but was held scoreless for the first 15 minutes. Funk finished with a frustrated 13 points. Creighton had come into the game undefeated and was receiving votes in the polls.

"I think we played exceptional defense tonight," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "I think we've been playing good defense all season," said sophomore guard Cliff Clinkscales. "We needed to play good defense for the whole 35 seconds."

"We got off track there and never really got into a rhythm offensively," said Creighton coach Dana Altman. "They got us going sideways, and from there we were awful."

"We didn't hit shots," Altman stated. "Our energy level was low. I'm not sure why. We didn't play with the kind of energy we've played with. We planned on seeing some matchup zone. We just didn't respond very well. We played straight up and down."

The game was close throughout the first half. The teams entered the break at halftime with the Blue Demons leading 25-23.

DePaul's defense was key as the Blue Demons scored the first seven points of the second half. With DePaul leading 36-32 with 10 minutes remaining, the Blue Demons went on another run. This time it was 11 straight points, putting them up 47-32 with seven minutes left.

With four minutes remaining and trailing by 12, Altman's strategy was to have his team start fouling. He hoped the young Demons would collapse at the free throw line. But, they remained solid, shooting 31 of 39 from the charity stripe.

"They tried to out-tough us the last eight or nine minutes," said junior guard Sammy Mejia. "We knew they were going to try to make a run. We tried to stay strong and not get back on our heels."

Center Anthony Tolliver led Creighton with 17 points. Three Blue Demons finished in double figures. Freshman forward Wilson Chandler led DePaul with 17 points and eight rebounds, his highest output of his young career. Mejia had 15 points and five assists. Karron Clarke came in with 10 points and 6 rebounds.

The game featured more turnovers than most bakeries. DePaul turned the ball over 19 times, while Creighton had 14 turnovers. But, Wainwright felt that the turnovers were not bad turnovers. "They only had 6 steals," expressed Wainwright. "Our turnovers didn't lead to points." Two of DePaul's turnovers were due to 10 second backcourt violations. "I'll take a 10-second call over a bad pass because it doesn't lead directly to points and it lets you set your defense."

The Blue Demons won just 48 hours after losing at Northern Illinois. "Our defense was great without having much practice time," Clinkscales said.

Wainwright felt he was hard on the players in practice the day after the NIU loss and that he "overreacted". He followed up practice with a closed door meeting with the team on Tuesday evening. Tuesday was also the first time that Wainwright showed his team tape on an opponent. On game day, Wainwright was pleased with a hour and 10 minute practice.

"I am very proud of the kids," Wainwright related. "With just one day to prepare we came out and executed our game plan well. This was a nice win because Creighton does such an outstanding job and our young guys are starting to feel more comfortable."

"Success builds confidence," Wainwright remarked. "You make the transition from hoping you're going to win to believing you're going to win."

Official Box Score


Generally Managing: The GM of the Chicago Cubs (and former Creighton baseball coach) – Jim Hendry and the Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson were both in the house tonight.

The new voice of the Blue Demons was introduced tonight. WSCR's Zach Zaidman will take over the play by play duties beginning with Saturday's Bucknell game. Ron Gleason has accepted a promotion at WBBM radio and worked his last game tonight. Zach is a Syracuse alumnus and is excited about returning to Big East basketball.

The return trip in the series with Creighton will happen in the 2007-08 season with the Blue Demons traveling to Omaha.

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