Allowing 12 first-half 3-pointers was only the start of the problem. DePaul really fell apart in Saturday’s 83-58 loss at Marquette when the Blue Demons allowed their defensive struggles to dictate how they ran offense.
“Obviously we didn’t do a really good job of closing out to shooters and chasing them off the line,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “And then what it did is it broke down our offense, too. So we stopped running offense crisply like the way we had planned to do.”
DePaul (8-10, 1-4 Big East) opened up the game with energy and kept pace with Marquette’s high-powered offense through the first 11 minutes.
Early on, Marquette (12-5, 3-2) was jump-shot happy but had trouble connecting. The Golden Eagles started 1-of-6 from three, and after 11 minutes DePaul led 22-20.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski attributed the sluggishness to a quick turnaround from Wednesday’s overtime win against Seton Hall.
“I thought we were a little heavy legged,” Wojciechowski said. “And then it’s amazing how much energy you get when the ball starts going through the hoop.”
Junior guard Andrew Rowsey had been scoreless off the bench until sinking a jumper with 8:46 remaining. That began a spurt of eight straight points by Rowsey, and Marquette extended that to a 20-2 run.
As Marquette hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer, DePaul tried to answer with quick shots and got few quality looks at the basket over the game’s final 31 minutes. As ugly as allowing 1.8 points per possession in the first half was, the Blue Demons managed to score only 0.55 points per trip through the first 13 minutes of the second half.
“It’s really on all of us to understand the simplicity of the game,” Leitao said. “You move the ball around, move your body around, and you create open opportunities. And then you’ve got to make high percentage shots. If you break down the film on how many possessions we had today, I don’t know that there was a high percentage of times where that happened.”
Rowsey had 19 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 24 points, his highest total in a Marquette uniform. (He once dropped 41 points at UNC Asheville before transferring.) The Blue Demons could not keep up with his 6-of-7 3-point shooting.
Senior guards Katin Reinhardt and Jajuan Johnson chipped in three and two treys, respectively, in the first half as Marquette pulled away for a 52-31 advantage.
The 3-pointers stopped falling in the second half, but Marquette was prepared.
“At halftime we talked primarily about our defense,” Wojciechowski said. “The expectation that you’re gonna shoot 12-for-20 in two straight halves, that’s not what we expected. So we talked a lot about defense and rebounding. We shot 34% from the field and 20% from three in the second half, so our guys showed they listened.”
Senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. led DePaul with 12 points while Darrick Wood added 11. The Blue Demons had the energy sucked out of them, and even when Garrett took a charge late in the second half, his teammates did nothing more than quietly pull him back to his feet.
“Nobody in the locker room wants to lose, especially this bad with a rivalry team,” freshman guard Devin Gage said. “It’s very depressing.”