Northwestern erased a six-point deficit in the closing minutes of the second half Saturday and pulled away in overtime to defeat DePaul, 78-70.
DePaul (5-6) had outplayed Northwestern deep into the second half. The Wildcats trailed 57-51 entering the final five minutes. Then senior guard Tre Demps hit a three, senior center Alex Olah made a pair of free throws and sophomore point guard Bryant McIntosh found junior forward Sanjay Lumpkin for a lay-in to put Northwestern (10-1) ahead 58-57.
DePaul coach Dave Leitao thought his team executed the defensive game plan well up until crunch time.
“I thought the last three or four minutes of the game and overtime, it slipped,” Leitao.
The Blue Demons responded to take a three-point lead, but Lumpkin’s free throw with 46 seconds left forced a 61-61 tie and overtime. Leading 61-60, DePaul had a chance to increase its lead, but senior forward Myke Henry missed a dunk attempt.
In the extra period, DePaul quickly took a 65-63 lead. Then Northwestern freshman Aaron Falzon drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer. The 6-foot-8 forward was 0-of-6 from the floor before taking that shot.
“If you don’t play with confidence, then you shouldn’t be out there,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said.
Falzon followed with another trey in the final minute, which put the game out of DePaul’s reach at 73-65.
DePaul’s offense, which has typically been the team’s stronger side of the ball, had difficulties against Northwestern’s defense. The Blue Demons shot 34.8 percent from the field, including 7-of-23 from 3-point range. They also shot an average 17-of-25 (68 percent) on free throws.
Henry led the Blue Demons with 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting. The senior also shot 8-of-10 at the foul line.
Senior point guard Aaron Simpson recorded one of his best games of the season, posting 13 points and eight rebounds. The 5-foot-11 North Chicago native scored the team’s first 10 points. He is now averaging 14.5 points in DePaul’s last two games with a 60.4 effective field-goal percentage.
Minus Henry and Simpson, the rest of the Blue Demons shot 11-of-37 (29.7 percent) from the floor.
Entering its non-conference finale Tuesday at George Washington, DePaul now holds a three-game losing streak.