Duquesne (3-7) traveled to take on DePaul (7-1) and were soundly beaten, 87-67, at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
While the final score looks like the Dukes were completely out of the game, they were within five up to about 10 minutes remaining in the second half, but were outscored 30-15 the rest of the way and suffered their second straight road loss and third loss in a row. This start for the Dukes is also the worst start for them since the 2006-07 season, when they also started 3-7.
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The first half was a tale of two periods, as both teams shot less than 30% in the first 10 minutes and then shot more than 40% in the last 10 minutes.
The Dukes finally got going just before the 10 minute mark, starting on an 8-0 run to take a 18-14 run with 8:23 remaining.
Depaul responded late in the first half, outscoring Duquesne 14-7 to take the lead at halftime, 36-30. 12 of the points came from 3-pointers, and each of them was made by a different DePaul player.
The Dukes started off the second half on an 8-2 run, thanks to a 3-pointer from junior guard Leon Ayers III and two layups from sophomore forward/center Tre Williams, cutting the lead to one at 38-37 just three minutes in.
Duquesne and DePaul kept battling throughout the first part of the second half, with DePaul trying to break away and Duquesne continuously chipping away at their lead.
A big part of Duquesne’s offense was Williams who made his presence in the low block known, scoring 17 points and keeping DePaul’s lead at five with 10:26 remaining.
After that, the Blue Demons took control of the game, becoming more proficient on offense, particularly from 3-point range, making five of their eight attempts. They also played better defensively, as they forced the Dukes to rush possessions and settle for poor shots.
One player that was instrumental in DePaul’s surge in the last half of the second period was senior guard Javon Freedom-Liberty. He came into the game as DePaul’s leading scorer and did it once again against Duquesne, scoring 26 points, with 13 of those coming in those last 10 minutes of the game.
When the lead was still at five, Freedom-Liberty scored nine points on an 11-2 run for the Blue Demons that extended their lead to 14, 66-52, with 7:30 left in the half.
DePaul would not look back the rest of the game, going on a 16-4 run between the third and final media timeouts to take a 24 point lead, 82-58, their biggest lead of the night. Duquesne outscored them 9-5 to finish the game, but by that point, DePaul had their reserves on and the game was finished.
The Dukes will look to end their losing streak on Saturday, Dec. 11, where they will take on the New Hampshire Wildcats at 1 p.m. at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse