After losing to UIC 85-80 at Allstate Arena last season, DePaul was looking for some payback. The Blue Demons hung on in this cross-town battle to win 67-63.
Junior guard Will Walker led the way for the Blue Demons with 17 points.
"I thought it was the kind of game I was hoping we would have," said UIC coach Jimmy Collins. "The result is not what I would've wanted. It was a battle. I was anticipating that. I thought it was a good game. I still think it was a good game for our students and for the city."
"I appreciated the crowd," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "I thought it was a really good atmosphere for this early in the season and I think it will help both teams grow."
Sophomore Mac Koshwal contributed with a double-double of 14 points (on five of eight shooting inside) and 15 rebounds. "He had 15 rebounds himself," said Collins. "We really made an effort to keep him off the boards, but we couldn't do anything with him. He was a beast. It was Koshwal and Walker that hurt us."
Koshwal's game on the interior was really clicking tonight as the Demons scored 30 of their 67 points in the paint. Mac also helped preserve the victory with two clutch free throws with four seconds to go in the game. "I just went out there with the two rules that Coach Wainwright told me – just rebound and play defense and let the game come to you," Koshwal said. "As long as these guys hit some shots, that's going to make my game better. Let them help out and give me some space so I can create and score some baskets."
Sophomore Dar Tucker struggled shooting yet managed 12 points and seven rebounds in the contest.
It was a physical battle with the Blue Demons shooting 38.3% from the field while holding UIC to 32.8% and an unheard of 18.2% from three point territory. "I thought the story of the game was – they shot 32% at home," summed up Wainwright.
Sharpshooting UIC senior guard Josh Mayo led all scorers with 23 points yet struggled shooting three of 11 behind the arc.
The Blue Demons led by as many as 13 points with 8:50 to go in the game. Yet UIC continued to narrow the gap until they tied it at 59 with 2:26 to play.
Coming out of a timeout, DePaul freshman guard Jeremiah Kelly picked a great time to bury a long-distance three point shot.
"He knocked it down," Mayo said. "That was a big time shot."
"I was confident in him," said junior guard Will Walker. "I knew he was going to knock it down. I could tell how he bends his knees and puts the ball behind his ear."
"That was a big shot obviously," said Wainwright. "He didn't hesitate. I was really proud of his floor game."
The loose physical game featured more turnovers than most bakeries have. UIC turned over the ball 16 times. The Blue Demons had 24 turnovers and allowed the Flames to score 27 points off of turnovers.
"Both teams got after each other," said Collins. "I thought the intensity was good by both teams."
Wainwright praised the play of his true freshmen, who are still getting indoctrinated to Division I basketball. "My comments center on our freshmen," Wainwright said. "I thought they got a crash course in pressure on the road. I thought Devin Hill's last two threes at the end of the first half was like a transfusion of energy and confidence. What a difference those two shots make. You can't downplay that. He was man enough to step up and he hit them."
Freshman center Krys Faber finished with four points and five rebounds in twelve minutes of play coming off the bench. "I thought Krys Faber was really effective rebounding early in the second half," observed Wainwright. "It allowed us to split Mac and Matija's minutes which really helped Mac. I thought Mac was fresh at the end of the game and I thought that helped him make the free throws."
Next up for the Blue Demons is the University of Detroit Titans, who arrive at Allstate Arena on Wednesday night.
Back in Black - The Blue Demons won their first game wearing their black uniforms. They went 0-2 while wearing black last season.
The Flames will return to Allstate Arena next season in the last game of the current series between the two schools.
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