Villanova surged out to a 24-7 first half lead on an 11 point run. The Blue Demons fought back with an 11-2 run of their own and went into intermission trailing 32-20.
In the second half DePaul struck back with an 11 point run and pulled to within three with 9:29 remaining in the game. The crowd was energized and Villanova head coach Jay Wright was forced to call a time out.
"DePaul is a good team," said Villanova guard Randy Foye, who led all scorers with 23 points. "Every time we made a run, they made a run at us."
"When we cut it to three, that was one of the few moments in the game when we actually were being aggressive on the offensive end," said DePaul junior guard Sammy Mejia.
Ultimately it was misses from the charity stripe that contributed to DePaul's failure as the Blue Demons shot 43.5% from the line compared to 73.7% for the Wildcats. "Its minor things like free throws that have been haunting us lately," Mejia said. "It was a 10 point loss. We missed 13 free throws, so that alone was a major difference."
"It was painful at the free throw line," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "It's probably how dentistry was in the 1800's before they had anesthetics."
Much of the Blue Demons' free throw shooting woes have been mental problems. "There were guys with a little hitch and guys on their toes," observed Wainwright. "That's usually a sign of a little lack of confidence at that point in time, they're thinking too much."
It wasn't just free throws that cost the Blue Demons the game. Villanova was very efficient at getting points off of DePaul turnovers. The Wildcats scored 11 points off of DePaul miscues. "Their steals led directly to baskets," observed Wainwright.
If there was a bright spot to be found for DePaul it was their half-court defense. "They had six assists out of 21 baskets," said Wainwright. "I think we forced them to make some very difficult plays. They made some great one-on-one plays."
Guard Kyle Lowry contributed with 15 points on five of 11 shooting from the field for Villanova.
Sophomore forward Karron Clarke was the lone player in double figures for DePaul with 14 points and 15 rebounds in his double-double effort for the Blue Demons.
Villanova was without guard Mike Nardi for the second straight game due to severe tonsillitis.
The Blue Demons fell to 9-13 overall and 2-9 in Big East conference play. "I don't think we have any despair in our games, we have a lot of frustration and disappointment," remarked Wainwright.
Many DePaul alumni returned for the university's Homecoming festivities. Former Blue Demon point guard Rod Strickland was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. Also in attendance were alums – David Booth, Kevin Edwards, Kevin Holmes, Bernard Randolph, and Marcus Singer.
Official Box Score
DePaul Fails at Line in 61-51 Loss to Nova
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