DePaul never trailed in this match-up of traditional Catholic rivals. The partisan crowd of 15,675 witnessed the Wilson Chandler coming out party as the freshman scored a career high 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Chandler walked away with the Wendell Smith award as the game's most valuable player.
Freshman guard Jabari Currie recorded a career high 9 assists for the Blue Demons.
Park Ridge, IL native Colin Falls was the leading scorer for the Irish with 26 points including six trifectas. Guard Chris Quinn finished with 16 points.
DePaul led 37-27 at halftime. Blue Demons coach Jerry Wainwright was forced to call a time out less than one minute into the second half due to a barrage of Colin Falls three pointer to make adjustments. Afterwards Wainwright credited his son and assistant coach Scott Wainwright's strategy for switching Sammy Mejia onto Falls and Currie on Quinn on defense.
The Irish managed to tie the game at 53-53 with 10:54 remaining in the game. DePaul then went on a five point run to open things up some.
Irish coach Mike Brey credited DePaul for the win. "We had some key stops to give us a chance. They made some really difficult shots. You have to give them credit."
"What was hard for us to absorb was them beating us to the ball, their ball quickness," remarked Brey. "They are really quick off their feet and they get loose balls and second shots and that took it's toll over 40 minutes."
Brey felt that Chandler's play was key for the Blue Demons. "He's just so active," said Brey. "Sometimes guys are just hard to block out. I don't care how much technique you have. There's some athletic ability there sometimes. He certainly has that. He was the one that would get them a second possession that really hurt us."
Chandler talked about his award and the team's performance. "It's a great honor winning this award after a good game and I want to accept this award on behalf of my teammates and my coaching staff," said Chandler. "It was a very uptempo game, we just played a great defense in the first half, and continued on in the second half we got a lot of fast break points and everybody played well on defense."
"(Chandler) was terrific out of the get-go and gave us a tremendous boost of confidence," Wainwright observed. "He's a quick kid and obviously a great finisher."
DePaul finished with four players in double figures, Chandler, Karron Clarke with 14, Currie scored 12, and Sammy Mejia added 10. "To me, the story of the game was our front line," said Wainwright. "Karron Clarke showed that he was out of his post-injury funk in the second half. He's explosive. I thought Karron did a great job today of getting to the rim. What a difference to our team when he is involved in rebounding. He really committed himself. Today he just cut loose."
DePaul senior center Marlon Brumfield contributed six points and four rebounds and appeared to be shaking off the rust from his ankle injury. "I thought Marlon is slowly adapting to what we're asking him to do," observed Wainwright. "His inside baskets were critical."
Both Brumfield and Chandler were able to contain Notre Dame big man Torin Francis. "(Brumfield's) presence in the middle really solidifies our defense," said Wainwright.
"I knew they were going to start going to (Francis) early, I just have to keep staying in front of him and don't let him get any angles," said Brumfield. "When he was ready to shoot, I just get up in his face." Marlon had been hampered in earlier games with a sore ankle. "It's feeling a lot better."
Clarke talked about the game plan to limit Quinn and Falls. "Our main focus was to stop those two because they are their top scorers. So that's what we focused on all week.
The game was a war that was reminiscent of some of the Notre Dame versus DePaul battles of the 1970's and 1980's. Playing for the first time in the same conference has no doubt added intensity to the rivalry between the two schools.
Former DePaul and Hall of Fame Coach Ray Meyer was present at his first game this year. "I spoke to Coach Meyer yesterday," said Wainwright. "To have him present at our first Big East win will be a treasured memory for myself, our coaching staff and family, and the kids who played in this game. Coach Meyer was coaching in the Big East before DePaul was in the Big East. These are all great rivalry games that he helped make games of national significance. I'm really happy that he was able to see this game and be a part of it."
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was present at today's game to witness the DePaul victory.
Chandler had the performance of his young career in front of his former Benton Harbor, Michigan high school basketball team.
Blue Demons Score First Big East Win
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