Men’s basketball can’t solve DePaul

By Steve Shonder

Men’s basketball couldn’t handle the DePaul Blue Demons’ full-court pressure as it turned the ball over 21 times.

The Huskies (3-2) fell to the Blue Demons (4-1), 78-67, Tuesday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. DePaul scored 30 points off turnovers thanks to its hot shooting and an aggressive press the Huskies were unable to solve.

“I’m disappointed,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “They spread us out. One of [our] goals was limiting turnovers, and that cost us the game.

“You have to give DePaul credit; they made some tough 3s. We contested their shots. Hindsight, 20-20, we could have switched our fours more on ball screens.”

Early in the first half, the Huskies played DePaul close, keeping it even through the first 11 minutes, but the Blue Demons pulled away after senior Forrest Robinson and sophomore Billy Garrett Jr. hit back-to-back 3-pointers off of NIU turnovers.

The Huskies made runs to cut into DePaul’s lead several times, but it was never enough. DePaul had its largest lead, 19, at the midpoint of the second half.

“It showed that when the players are down they keep fighting,” Montgomery said. “We cut a 14-point lead down to six in the first half. Then DePaul hits that 3-pointer with no time left; that was a back-breaker. We still came [out] strong in the second half.”

Turnovers and missed 3-pointers were the killers for the Huskies. They finished with 21 turnovers, including 13 in the first half, which turned into 19 points for DePaul. The Huskies were 0-6 from beyond the arc before sophomore Aaric Armstead netted their first triple with seven minutes to go in the second half. They finished 2-11 from the 3-point line.

“We’re still struggling from the 3-point arc,” Montgomery said. “We shot the ball well. We shot 48 percent [from the floor]. We made as many shots as they missed. Two for 11 [from the 3], that’s something we’re still going to have to work on … .”

Junior Darrell Bowie was an offensive force early, scoring six points in the opening six minutes. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

DePaul had five players score in double figures, with junior Myke Henry and Garrett scoring 15 points each. The Blue Demons shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and 54 percent overall.

DePaul managed to find a hot shooter to ruin each of NIU’s runs, with the Blue Demons almost always answering the Huskies’ offense with a 3-pointer.

Armstead put up a game-high 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Redshirt junior Chuks Iroegbu had a solid night off the bench, scoring a career-high 15 points.

“Chuks was a big spark for us,” Montgomery said. “He helped bring us back into the game. We’re looking for that for the rest of the year from him.”