DePaul Puts One in the Win Column

After starting out 0-2 on the road, DePaul Blue Demons head coach Jerry Wainwright was looking for some home cooking. With a 71-41 victory over the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Allstate Arena on Friday night, Wainwright got just what the doctor ordered before heading out to the Maui Invitational on Saturday.

"We needed it real bad," said DePaul senior Lorenzo Thompson. "I knew this game we'd pick it up. We all stuck together. I feel like we all played as a team tonight."

Leading 34-19 at halftime, the DePaul men's basketball team proceeded to shutdown the Panthers in the second half. Eastern Illinois was held without a field goal for the first twelve minutes of the second half. The Panthers shot 27.5% from the field overall. The Blue Demons applied defensive pressure stealing the ball 13 times in the second half. "They took balls right out of our hands," said Eastern Illinois coach Mike Miller. "They just took it away."

DePaul dominated on the boards by a 41-28 rebounding margin.

Karron Clarke led all scorers with 12 points. Clarke also had three steals and five rebounds. After the game, Clarke talked about the Demons spurt in the second half. "Coach always stresses that we play the first half to get to the second half. We've started out slow in the second half, but today we stressed coming out harder than the first half."

Sophomore forward Wilson Chandler finished with 11 points. While senior Marcus Heard had a near double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

Freshman Will Walker had six points, three rebounds, and three assists in the home debut for the Bolingbrook High point guard.

After playing limited minutes in the first two games due to injury, Thompson contributed seven points in just eight minutes of duty off of the bench. Thompson was a game time decision for DePaul. "I wasn't even expecting to play tonight," Thompson said. "I was just going day by day. Coach is always telling me to be ready. I know my teammates depend on me a lot. So I've been working in practice really hard to get back in game shape."

Mike Robinson, a sophomore guard from Chicago Hales Franciscan, led the way for the Panthers with 11 points.

The two earlier road losses came at a difficult time for DePaul. "The thing about college basketball, it's not really who you play it's when you play people," said Wainwright. "We moved finals up a week. We've taken finals before the rest of the school because of (the upcoming trip to) Hawaii. We had guys in finals this morning. I'm proud of how the kids have hung in there. They felt really good about playing at home. I thought the people that showed up tonight we really good to them. I thought our crowd was important to our kids."

Now that the final exams are over with, DePaul can focus on basketball and the remainder of their non-conference schedule. "You remember those times when you didn't have school, those were pretty good times," recalled Wainwright. "We don't have school now till the second week in January, so I think we're going to calm down and settle in and really start to improve as a basketball team."

Thompson agreed. "Now that's school is over with, we can focus on basketball. I'm ready to play now."

The Blue Demons open on Monday in Maui against the 22nd ranked Kentucky Wildcats who defeated Mississippi Valley State 79-56 on Friday night.

Official Box Score

Postgame Audio

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