Providence Outlasts DePaul 62-54

On Saturday night, DePaul traveled to Providence, Rhode Island for their first Big East road game this season. DePaul was warned, from pundits to fans alike, about the rigors of playing in the Big East this year, especially on the road, and tonight was a prime example if you don't bring your game for a full 40 minutes, you're going to get exposed.

On Saturday night DePaul was exposed as the home-energized Providence Friars (10-4, 2-0 in the Big East) had enough gusto to push past DePaul (8-7, 0-2) in a 62-54 victory before a crowd of 8,547 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

"We made a lot of mental mistakes that have to be rectified," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "We have to play with more focus."

Providence opened the game with a balanced and consistent effort, a game they would never trail in. A three pointer by Jeff Xavier with 5:42 to go in the first half gave the Friars their biggest lead in the game at 26-14.

The Blue Demons would counter though and stage a good fight and would cut the lead to six going into the half. It could have been a four-point lead at the intermission, but those mental mistakes Wainwright pointed out made on the night were never more evident when Providence's Randall Hanke was left open for an uncontested dunk to make it 34-28 as time expired at the break.

DePaul would not let Providence run away with the game in the second half, and at one point in the second half got within one point on a Mac Koshwal jumper with 10:20 to go. But, every time DePaul made a run, Providence would counter with a big basket, this time a three-pointer by Geoff McDermott as Providence pushed its lead back to four.

DePaul would tease the rest of the way, but could not get over the hump, with a key dagger in the game being Jeff Xavier's three pointer with 5:29 to go to make it 55-45. DePaul would not die and would get back within four with less than three minutes to play. But more costly errors doomed the Demons and another timely three pointer by Weyinmi Efejuku with 1:49 to go made the game more out of the reach for the Blue Demons, this time pushing the lead to 58-51 with 1:49 to go.

Will Walker, DePaul's leading scorer on the night (14 points), would answer with a three of his own, but another costly breakdown on defense led to an easy uncontested layup underneath the basket for Efejuku to make it 60-54 with less than a minute to play and Providence would nail down two more free throws for the final spread.

On a night where DePaul's dynamic duo of Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal were held in check (a total of 19 points on a combined 7 of 25 shooting), it was seldom used center Krys Faber who would give the Demons a big spark down low contributing with a career high 11 points.

"Obviously, when he made his first shot, it gave him some confidence," remarked Wainwright. "He was a big help tonight."

DePaul was a stone's throw away from grabbing a key conference road win, but Providence took over down the stretch with some timely baskets and key defensive stops.

"They were a few shots away from taking control of the game," Providence coach Keno Davis said of DePaul.

Both teams got balanced scoring. Providence had four scorers in double figures, with Efejuku scoring a game high 18 points. Besides Walker's 14, DePaul also had two others in double figures (Faber with 11 and Tucker with 12). But on this night, it was Providence who was more consistent and that was the difference.

DePaul will now have to face one of the Big East's better teams on the road this Wednesday when they travel to Syracuse for a game with a top 15 team in the nation.

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