Two timely three-point shots and the ability to control the tempo helped DePaul take down Chicago rival Loyola 81-74 today at Allstate Arena.
Guards Courtney Stanley and Gabe Kindred aren't the strongest players on the court for Loyola and to beat a team that plays the style of DePaul (5-6) you have to get great point guard play. Both of them struggled, with three turnovers each, part of Loyola's (8-4) 19 total turnovers in the contest. Those turnovers also allowed DePaul to get out in transition and get a number of easy baskets.
"I thought the tempo of the game all the way through was in our favor," said DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell. "I thought they got a little bit tired. Obviously the hit a few jump shots early, hit a few late. But I thought that in the meat of the game they were missing some jump shots they would otherwise make."
While Geoff McCammon started off hot for the Ramblers, and finished with a career-high 31 points, he did miss some open looks because of tired legs late in the game and finished 3-10 from three. That might've come from playing 38 minutes against the tough pressure defense of DePaul.
The Blue Demons countered McCammon with a quintet of double-digit scorers. While Tony Freeland led the way with 16 points, all seven players that scored had at least eight points. Playing against those weaker guards, Brandon Young was able to showcase his game. He scored only eight points, but he had nine assists and three steals and was really able to impact the contest.
"He's going to be a special player," said Loyola head coach Jim Whitesell about Young. "He can get to the basket. He's got great size. He can shoot the three. ... He's a guy that can be an All-Big East guy in the next year or two."
What this game showed for DePaul was the potential this team has. When it's playing well it can beat good teams. But it takes a team effort, especially offensively.
"Anytime you've got 24 assists that means you're doing something right," Purnell said. "You're sharing the ball. ... We're making the correct pass, the extra pass and we have to. We can't have a guy forcing balls."
That balance came partly because Jeremiah Kelly decided to be more aggressive. Kelly tied his season high with 12 points, a mark he hadn't reach since the opener against Chicago State. He was more aggressive on the court and finished 2-3 from beyond the arc and also had five assists.
The focused play came thanks to a meeting Kelly and Purnell had yesterday at practice. It seemed to rub off well on the junior guard, because of this was his strongest game of the season. While he had seemed timid to shoot the ball in earlier games, Kelly aggressively looked for his offense, including a big three at the end of the first half that gave DePaul a 32-30 lead heading into the break.
The other big three was from Krys Faber, who is now shooting 100 percent from distance in his career. With 10:09 to go in the game Faber hit a three-pointer with the shot clock expiring that seemed to give the Blue Demons the momentum they needed to finish out the game.
"The ball was in my hand, they said 'Shoot!,' and I put it up," Faber said.
For Loyola it's back to the drawing board and a game at Texas-Pan American on Wednesday. It's unlikely the Ramblers will see this intense of defensive pressure again this season and that's a good thing, because Whitesell's club seems ill-equipped to handle the up-tempo game. The rivalry renews again next season at the Gentile Center with the Ramblers looking for revenge.