On Saturday, Northwestern grabbed its first win over DePaul since 2009. It may not have been pretty and it may not have been dominating, but it was a win nonetheless.
Neither team could feel extremely confident entering the game, but both had done enough so far this year to believe that a win would have some real significance. Northwestern entered the game at 9-1, absolutely still in play for the NCAA Tournament. DePaul was only 5-5, but had taken care of business against the weaker teams and was hoping to get back on track.
From the start, it was largely a back-and-forth affair for the two teams. DePaul would hit a bucket and Northwestern would follow-up with a few of its own. It was a one point game at halftime and the vast majority of the second half was a one possession game. With just 1:49 remaining, DePaul led 59-58 and went to the free throw line. After two buckets, it looked like the Blue Demons would grab the win.
However, in the final seconds of regulation, Bryant McIntosh got a huge bucket inside and Sanjay Lumpkin hit a free throw to tie things up with 0:46 remaining. After neither team could convert, the game went to overtime.
In overtime, the combination of Tre Demps, Alex Olah, and Bryant McIntosh was too much for DePaul. All told, Northwestern grabbed the 78-70 win in overtime.
There’s no doubt that beating a now 5-6 DePaul team isn’t going to guarantee Northwestern anything for the postseason, but this is still a big win. For one thing, it gets the Wildcats a valuable road win, which always looks good on the resume. Additionally, it pushes the team to 10-1 overall, very likely to move to 11-1 with games against Sacred Heart and Loyola (MD) next.
The key players for Northwestern in the game were Demps, McIntosh and Olah.
All scored at least 13 points in the game with Demps leading the way with 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Additionally, McIntosh had 13 points, five rebounds, and eight assists, and Olah had 14 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.
For DePaul, this is a tough loss for a multitude of reasons.
To start, the Blue Demons now drop to just 5-6 overall and with a non-conference game against a good George Washington team awaiting, DePaul will likely enter Big East play with a losing record. On top of that, losing to a nearby a Northwestern program fighting for relevance in Chicago is never good news.
The Blue Demons have had a decent amount of success against Northwestern recently and losing this one has to hurt.
A player who did stand out for DePaul in this game was Mike Henry. He finished with a 121 offensive rating, 24 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. Along with him, Tommy Hamilton and Aaron Simpson both scored double-digits with 10 and 13 respectively.
Overall, this probably isn’t the type of game that is going to be talked about for years to come, but it was a game that had a good amount of potential for both sides.
With the win, Northwestern will continue its pursuit of its first NCAA Tournament bid in program history. On the flip side, DePaul will have to figure things out before a quick turnaround against a tough George Washington team.
Northwestern faces Sacred Heart on December 21st at home. DePaul’s game against George Washington is on December 22nd at home.