And just like 11 days earlier, DePaul would come unglued in the second half and suffer yet another tough defeat by the hands of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 71-62 on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 4,712.
On this day DePaul (8-20, 1-15) would come out blazing in the first half and build at one time a 14-point lead on 16-33 shooting. They would go into halftime up 37-26. The Demons would knock down four of their seven three pointers and were getting a solid contributions from everyone on the team as Rutgers was flat in playing defense in the opening frame.
However, Rutgers (15-14, 5-11) called and raised the stakes even more as they ferociously went on a staggering 30-7 run to take command of the game at 56-44 on a James Beatty three-pointer with 9:04 left in the game.
Even more impressive was the fact that Rutgers torched the nets to the tune of 57.7 field goal shooting in the second half.
Meanwhile, DePaul crumbled and got intimidated on the road once again and shot a woeful 36 percent in the second half. The two halves for both teams could not have been more different.
It's yet another disheartening loss for interim head coach Tracy Webster, as he has tried to implore to his team the value of playing two great halves.
"It's always a disappointment when you lose," said Webster expressing if this loss was any different or frustrating.
"We're up in the first half and playing with a lot of confidence," Webster added. "Then in the second half we come out and maybe don't play with as much confidence that we need to play with."
Rutgers coach Fred Hill, Jr. must know what buttons to push in the second half.
"I told them to make up their minds if they wanted to let this team come in here and take one away from them," said Hill. "At halftime, it wasn't emotional or a lot of yelling and screaming. I just challenged them to make up their minds and said ‘Do you want to let this team come in here and take a game away from you that they shouldn't be able to?"
Rutgers got a big contribution from leading scorer Mike Rosario. Rosario was a thorn in the side of the Demons in the second half of the last game they played, but his encore was much more damaging. Rosario was simply on fire for the Scarlet Knights. He scored a game high 24 points on 8-13 shooting, including 5-8 from three-point land.
DePaul again showed some fight in the closing minutes and would cut a 12-point second-half Rutgers lead down to four on a Jeremiah Kelly three-pointer with 2:11 to go. But Rutgers would answer with a 9-4 run and make enough free-throws to ensure the victory.
Rutgers would get double-figure scoring efforts from Jonathan Mitchell (18 points) and Dane Miller (10 points).
For DePaul, a player who is not going down without a fight is Mac Koshwal. Koshwal was determined not to let this game slip away as he was relentless attacking the basket, but it was to no avail. It was no fault of his own though, as he again led DePaul in both scoring (20 points) and rebounding (nine rebounds).
Webster was full aware of the importance of stressing to the team at halftime how crucial the beginning of the second half would be.
"We talked about if (holding a 11-point lead), but we talked more about how the first four minutes is going to be huge for us," Webster remarked. "We have to continue to get stops even if we don't score. But we have to look to score. We had a lot of good open looks and in the second half we have to finish plays."
DePaul will now wrap up their season with a two game homestand vs. South Florida on Tuesday before ending the regular season on Friday vs. St. John's.
No Redemption at Rutgers
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