Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Green's five takeaways from DePaul's 69-68 win over Marquette

Photo Credit: Geno Green

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Despite having to rely primarily on free throw makes, the DePaul Blue Demons (15-15, 3-14 Big East) gritted out a 69-68 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles (18-11, 8-9 Big East) at Wintrust Arena. Here are my five takeaways for CSO.

1) DePaul’s five heartbeats:

With Paul Reed (hip) out for the second straight game, DePaul needed an extra option off the bench to carry the load and Romeo Weems would be inserted into the starting lineup as he delivered with his second double-double of the season (11 points, 11 rebounds).

Weems highlighted all five starters finishing in double figures scoring for DePaul, but free throws proved to be the venom to Marquette, going 31-of-35, with the final six points fueled from that category.

DePaul’s came into Tuesday’s game second to last in the Big East in free-throw shooting (64.1 percent), but came up clutch when needed given its shooting from the field was 17-of-56 (30 percent) on the night.

2) A jolt of Jayce:

Outside of Markus Howard’s 37 points in Saturday’s 88-79 loss to Seton Hall, Marquette’s role players were virtual non-factors. Tuesday night proved to be a different story for Jayce Johnson.

Johnson provided crucial minutes in the second half as Theo John (back spasms) would be a spectator for the majority of the time frame. The senior finished with double-digit rebounds for the third straight game with ten.

Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski gave credit to the senior center for stepping up, even in defeat.

“Jayce did a nice job for us. Obviously with Theo hurt and not at full strength as he been such an anchor for us in a lot of different ways. I thought Jayce stepped up nicely tonight," Wojciechowski said.

3) Golden Eagles’ foul woes:

Howard’s best efforts on offense with 31 points, on 8-of-21 shooting would not be any good as Marquette’s foul troubles decided the final outcome as with four players finishing with at least four fouls and Koby McEwen and Greg Elliott fouling out in the final minute.

Marquette accounted for 27 personal fouls and while officiating could be questioned after the game, opportunities were there on offense to seize the moment, but never came to fruition.

4) Defensive pressure on Howard:

Despite 31 from Howard, DePaul’s length and athleticism gave the senior a hard time to create for most of the night, which made every point hard to come by.

Other Marquette players struggled to get into a rhythm and Wojciechowski took responsibility for the outcome.

"Regardless of you feel, you have to go out and perform. I think we are capable of playing better and we just have to make it happen,” Wojciechowski said,

5) Marquette’s March misery:

It feels like a broken record once more as Marquette goes into the month of March on a slide that would make melted Breyers’ frozen dairy dessert somehow feel like ice cream as it has lost five of its last six games overall. Even in the previous four losses, those came to teams who are NCAA tournament caliber, but losing to last-place DePaul is the knife inserted deep into the heart.

What once looked like a guaranteed at-large bid into the field of 68 feels more like mini play-in games for Marquette as Saturday becomes a must-win at St. John’s. Howard kept things simple when it came to meeting at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

"We have to win. Our game on Saturday is a must-win and we are in a one-game season,” Howard said.

The margin of error is much slimmer compared to last season for Marquette and another loss on Saturday could put them in the same predicament as DePaul— win four games in four nights or watch on the couch on selection Sunday.