DePaul Gets it Done with Defense at Rutgers

There is an old saying in basketball that if you cannot make a basket and you are having a bad night shooting, you "couldn't even hit the ocean". Well, if the oceans are either the Atlantic or the Pacific, consider that Rutgers must have been somewhere in Iowa today.

At least the basket might have seemed that far away for the Scarlet Knights. To say Rutgers had trouble shooting the basketball against DePaul, in a 60-37 victory for the Blue Demons before a crowd of 6,113, would be an understatement of epic proportions. DePaul's defense was smothering and stifling as they demoralized the Scarlet Knights into shooting 26.5 % on the night.

Todays game was full of ugly statistics for Rutgers. Consider some of these stats. Rutgers shot 16% in the second half only connecting on four field goals. Rutgers shot two of 16 from three point range for the game (12.5 %). Today's total point output was the worst in the history of the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Perhaps the most telling stat was DePaul's top two go-to guys (Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler) combined to score just nine points and still cruised to victory.

DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright was extremely pleased with his team's defense. "I think it's so hard to play defense in basketball. One of the great things that happens is when you see kids do it and gut it out. They understand a scheme, and they rotate. That's beautiful," Wainwright said.

DePaul came out of the gate with a sense of urgency and never were really threatened storming out to a 16-4 lead. Rutgers cut the lead to six on a Ollie Bailey layup to make it 18-12 but Karron Clarke answered with a three to put DePaul up nine on the next possession. Rutgers got no closer than seven in the first half as DePaul took a 30-20 lead into intermission.

Clarke was the motor that got DePaul running as he got off to a great start scoring 14 of his game high 21 points in the first half on the strength of three trifectas to always keep DePaul's lead at a comfortable margin. On a night where Rutgers defense did yeomen's work on DePaul's potent duo of Mejia and Chandler, someone had to pick up the slack and Clarke was up to the task. Previously Clarke hasn't been himself and he wanted to shake the rust and help the team anyway he can.

"When you're in a slump, you're in a slump," Clarke admitted. "You're not going to get out of it by not shooting, so (you) just keep shooting the ball, (and) stay confident in yourself."

Clarke wasn't the only one up to the task as Draelon Burns and Marcus Heard both came off the bench to score 10 points apiece. Wainwright was quick to applaud the bench effort as he has all season. "Everybody on a good team is interested in winning. That's how everybody is rewarded," Wainwright discussed the balance he gets out of his offense. "Our second team is pretty good. When they put a few points on the board it really helps us grow."

Despite the poor shooting, the Scarlet Knights hung tough for about 30 minutes. Rutgers grew flustered and tired and DePaul ended the game outscoring the Scarlet Knights 25-12.

"I don't think that we came out flat, but we just didn't shoot the ball well and it's very hard when you don't score to continue that effort on the defensive end," Rutgers head coach Fred Hill said as he assessed his team's performance.

With it's second road win in three Big East road trips and only a home loss to seventh ranked Pittsburgh, DePaul came come away with some confidence knowing they are 2-2 in the Big East and 11-7 overall going back home for two contests. Wainwright agreed. "Obviously any time you win a game it's great, you win a road game it's even better," said Wainwright. "It's a good bounce back for us, especially with what's been happening, with the young man (senior Lorenzo Thompson losing his father to a heart attack) on our team and some of the other things that have bee surrounding our team in the last week."

Rutgers was paced by JR Inman's 10 points as he was the only Scarlet Knight in double figures. Rutgers now falls to 8-9 overall and 1-3 in Big East play.

DePaul will now come home for two home games - St. John's on Tuesday night and Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

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