DePaul Drops Big East Opener to #7 Notre Dame

The Blue Demons opened up Big East conference play at Allstate Arena on New Year's Eve, but it was the seventh ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish popping the champagne cork as they ran out to a 92-82 victory.

DePaul (8-6, 0-1) had no answer for Notre Dame's (10-2, 1-0) transition offense and dominance on the glass in this conference opener. The Fighting Irish outworked the Blue Demons on the boards by a 40-31 margin.

Luke Harangody, the reigning Big East Player of the Year, led the way for the Irish with a double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds. Notre Dame finished with five players in double-figures. Guard Ryan Ayers scored 14 points, while senior guard Kyle McAlarney contributed with 13, and junior point guard Tory Jackson chipped in with 12 points.

Senior forward Zach Hillesland was a difference-maker for Notre Dame with a career high of 17 points on eight of eleven shooting. "He was obviously the difference in the first half," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said of Hillesland. "He was really aggressive off the bounce."

DePaul was led by the play of super sophomores Mac Koshwal and Dar Tucker, but couldn't muster much offensive output from the remainder of the team. Koshwal led DePaul with a career high 26 points and picked up his fifth straight double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds.

One key difference in the game was Notre Dame's rebounding edge and their second chance point opportunities. The Irish scored 15 second chance points to eight for the Blue Demons. "We just gave them a lot of second chance opportunites on the rebounds," Koshwal said. "In the first half I didn't rebound the way I should have," said Koshwal. "I think Coach just grabbed me and told me I must rebound. I just came in the second half and tried to grab all the boards that I can."

Notre Dame's veteran leadership and poise was also a factor in the game. "They just had a lot of experience," Koshwal said. "They've been playing together for awhile now."

Senior guard Jabari Currie contributed with 15 points and dished out four assists. "He's a very strong kid," said Wainwright. "When he plays off two feet, he's really good in the lane."

Senior forward Matija Poscic chipped in with eight points and five rebounds for DePaul.

The Demons were without the services of freshman forward Devin Hill who sprained his ankle with 10 minutes to go in Tuesday's practice. Mario Stula started in place of Hill. Hill had started the last five straight games for DePaul. Hill's status is day-to-day.

The Blue Demons now head out on the road where they will play at Providence on Saturday night.

Notes:

- Former DePaul coach Joey Meyer returned to Allstate Arena tonight. Meyer was in attendance along with a number of other NBA scouts.

- DePaul is now 1-3 all-time in BIG EAST Conference openers and 5-13 all time in conference openers

- Mario Stula appeared in the starting lineup for the first time this season... DePaul has used five different starting lineups this season.

- With a career-high 26 points, Mac Koshwal now has 514 career points and 498 career rebounds... his 26 points marks the first time this season he has eclipsed the 20-point mark.

- With 24 and 26 points, Dar Tucker and Koshwal become the first DePaul duo this season to score 20+ points... they were the last two to accomplish the feat against Notre Dame at Allstate Arena on Mar. 2, 2008).

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