DePaul Takes Opener 59-53 over Columbia

The Columbia Lions came into Allstate Arena on Tuesday night with a reputation as a defensive-minded team from the Ivy League. Columbia stayed true to that as DePaul edged out a 59-53 win in the 2009-10 season opener for both teams.

Columbia (0-1) held opponents to an average of 62 points last season, and managed to hold DePaul to just below that number. The Blue Demons (1-0) did shoot 54.8% from the field and responded with defense of their own holding the Lions to 41.7% from the field.

Where DePaul failed to capitalize was at the charity stripe where they were as cold as the ice beneath the arena's floor. The Demons shot an atrocious 37.5% from the free throw line.

"Certainly our free throw shooting needs to improve," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright.

Wainwright said that sophomore forward Eric Wallace and junior center Mac Koshwal averaged 70-75% free throw shooting in practice. Yet came up short in a game situation tonight as Koshwal went three of eight from the line and Wallace went one of seven on foul shots.

"I think a lot of it is fundamentals, a lot of it is confidence," Wainwright said.

Columbia didn't fair much better as they shot 47.1% from the free throw line.

Koshwal led the way for DePaul with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.

"He had a huge factor," Columbia coach Joe Jones said of Koshwal. "He's a big body. Our guards didn't do a good job of beating him in the lane. Our defensive rotations weren't up to snuff."

Senior guard Will Walker scored 15 points, but was one of five from beyond the arc.

In his DePaul debut, Ohio State transfer Eric Wallace, after sitting out last season, scored 10 points and snared three rebounds.

"Having sat through every game last year in a suit and tie, it was a different feel suiting up with the guys that I spent the whole year with going hard in practice," Wallace said. "It was a good feel. I felt comfortable at home at Allstate. The fans were really behind us. It really felt good."

When Wallace picked up his fourth foul late in the game, the Blue Demons turned to sophomore big man Krys Faber.

"Krys got three rebounds in eight minutes and really helped change the way they were attacking us in the lane," said Wainwright. "It made us do some different things on offense that we haven't been able to do. I thought that was a key adjustment. I thought Krys Faber's minutes were critical in the second half."

Tuesday's game also marked the debut of junior college transfer Mike Stovall. While Stovall didn't start, he played 32 minutes. Coming off the bench, Stovall scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds.

Devin Hill started for the Blue Demons, but scored two points in just nine minutes. Hill was limited due to the stomach flu.

Brian Grimes, a transfer from LaSalle, and Noruwa Agho, who came off the bench, led the way for Columbia with 13 points apiece. Senior guard Patrick Foley contributed with nine points.

"The thing that stands out in my mind is that we had 23 baskets and 15 assists," said Wainwright.

Sophomore guard Jeremiah Kelly led the Demons with five assists.

"I thought it was a grinder game," Wainwright said. "I think we'll be a grinder team."

Box Score

Notes:

- The Big East is now 29-0 in non-confence game this season.

- The Blue Demons are now 76-11 all-time in the Season opening game of the year… DePaul has won two straight opening games.

- It's was Koshwal's 17 career double-double.

- The win ended an 18 game regular season losing streak dating back to last season.

- The Blue Demons depart for the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday morning where they well face the Northern Iowa Panthers in the opening round at noon on Friday.

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