Once again, DePaul waited until the latter portion of the second half Saturday to play competitive basketball. This time, the Blue Demons’ frantic comeback fell short in a 74-65 loss to Temple at the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
Temple (7-3) built a 25-point lead with 9:09 remaining. DePaul then reeled off a 27-7 extended run to cut the lead to 70-65 in the final minute and make the closing seconds way more interesting than expected.
Even during the run, DePaul (5-3) did not play the best basketball. Senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. missed an uncontested layup on a fast break, and soon after junior forward Tre’Darius McCallum missed an open dunk in the same situation.
Still, the Blue Demons trailed by five points with 30 seconds remaining. DePaul had possession down 71-65, but Garrett threw the ball away with 23 seconds left. Temple guard Shizz Alston Jr. knocked down two free throws to effectively put the game away.
While DePaul went more than nine minutes in crunch time without a turnover, Garrett committed two crucial turnovers in the final 69 seconds.
DePaul’s main trio of Garrett, sophomore guard Eli Cain and McCallum combined for 25% shooting from the field but made a living at the foul line. Together, they shot 21-of-24 (87.5%). Cain recorded a game-high 17 points.
The situation in Saturday’s game was familiar for DePaul. The Blue Demons trailed both Missouri State and Drake by double figures midway through the second half of back-to-back games in November, but they came back to win by two points each time. The Blue Demons also trailed Northwestern by 39 points in the second half last week and cut that to 16 points by the final buzzer.
The message has become pretty clear. DePaul can sometimes get away with sleeping through the first 30 minutes when facing middle- to low-end Missouri Valley teams. But against top 100 teams (a.k.a everyone else in the Big East), 10 minutes of competitive basketball won’t suffice.