DePaul Wins on the Road at Villanova 73-65

The most daunting of tasks stared the DePaul Blue Demons right in the eyes. Either win on the road at Villanova or fall behind the eight ball and start 0-2 in Big East play. But on this day, no matter how many runs and momentum swings there were, DePaul was not to be denied. DePaul in a game of wills pulled ahead victorious with a 73-65 victory before a capacity crowd at Villanova's Pavilion.

For DePaul men's basketball coach Jerry Wainwright this win was an important one. "It's a very meaningful win for us," said Wainwright. "Especially after being on the road for a couple of days and to bounce back after a very disappointing game Wednesday. I thought overall we played extremely well as a team and handled our game plan the right way and we're ecstatic about beating such a good team."

There were no ill effects of the poor play previously at St. John's, as DePaul jumped out the gate quick. The shots that were not falling against St. John's were seemingly going in with ease as the Demons stormed out to a 29-15 lead on 11 of 17 shooting. Then it was Villanova's turn to get hot as they whittled a 14 point lead down to four before intermission on the strength of good ball movement and finding the open shooters, much the same way DePaul opened the game.

That was just the start of DePaul weathering Villanova's storm.

Both teams went back and forth for about 10 minutes, with DePaul's lead between two to seven points the whole time. It wasn't until the 9:24 mark on a layup by 6-1 freshman guard Scottie Reynolds that Villanova's crowd erupted with cheer as the game was tied for the first time. At the time DePaul seemed tight. Just 33 seconds later Villanova took their first lead of the game 51-49 on a Shane Clark jumper, and it seemed momentum may slip from DePaul's hands.

But DePaul was not to be denied as Draelon Burns calmly swished a three pointer on the next possession on a beautiful feed form Cliff Clinkscales to put DePaul back up 52-51. After DePaul stopped Villanova on the next possession, Clinkscales ripped down the rebound and again found Burns for another one from behind the arc to put DePaul up four with eight minutes to go. Those possessions proved critical in gaining back thrust. Villanova tried desperately to get back that momentum. On the next possession Mike Nardi, a 6-2 senior guard, nailed a trifecta to gain some back but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler led DePaul in scoring with 23 and 18 points respectively. "The two guys sitting next to me (Mejia and Chandler), they're the heart of our team. They do so much, but I think they would agree with me that today it was great to get to have Draelon Burns back making shots," Wainwright identified as difference makers down the stretch. "Cliff Clinkscales also gave us a great lift the last nine minutes of the game."

What makes this win all the more impressive is the way the Demons closed the game with a solid showing at the foul line. You might remember the paltry display at the free throw line at. St. John's with the team going four of 15 to end the game. Then in the first half of this game, they went two of eight making the team six for 22 in their last 40 minutes of basketball. Something must have switched on as they hit a respectable 72% in the second half to close out the game.

"(The free throw shooting) put us in the pee-wee basketball record books," Wainwright joked. "I thought we came back in the second half, we showed a lot of resolve at the free throw line when it was most important."

"We played hard, we fought hard, every time we got right back in it, DePaul would answer with a big shot or an offensive rebound. That's what good teams do and that's what we got to be," explained Curtis Sumpter, a 6-7 senior forward for Villanova. Sumpter finished with 15 points for the Wildcats.

Villanova was paced by Scottie Reynolds who led all scorers with 25 points. DePaul improved their record to 10-6 and 1-1 in the Big East, while Villanova dropped to 10-4 and succumbed to a 0-2 start in the Big East.

Official Box Score

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