DePaul, Valparaiso set for newly scheduled matchup

NCAA Men's Basketball

DePaul’s stop-and-start basketball season will resume Saturday with a new addition to the schedule, a nonconference matchup with Valparaiso in Chicago.

Both teams were looking for action following postponements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blue Demons (1-4) had their scheduled Wednesday game at Georgetown postponed because of COVID-19-related issues in the Hoyas program.

The Crusaders (3-7) were due to play Saturday and Sunday at Southern Illinois, but those contests were postponed after the Salukis program had multiple positive COVID-19 tests.

DePaul had numerous scheduled games scrapped at the start of the season before finally opening with a 91-72 win over Western Illinois on Dec. 23. It’s been downhill since then for the Blue Demons, who have lost their subsequent four games, all in Big East Conference play, amid additional postponements.

The Blue Demons most recently were in action Monday, when they lost 60-53 to No. 25 UConn in Chicago. Darious Hall was the only DePaul player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points.

The Blue Demons outrebounded the Huskies 39-29 and posted a better field-goal percentage, 44 percent to 40.4 percent, but the Huskies won the game thanks to free throws and turnovers. UConn made 13 of 24 foul shots while DePaul attempted only eight foul shots and hit just four. The Blue Demons also gave the ball away 24 times while the Huskies had just 14 giveaways.

“I thought for most, if not all, of the 40 minutes that our competition level was where it needed to be against a really good team that is as solid as any team in this league,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “We’ve got to continue to address what is an Achilles (heel) for us right now, which is (turnovers).”

Late errors also proved costly for DePaul.

“I’m hoping that especially at the end of the game that part of it is an anomaly,” Leitao said. “That is not typical that your guards especially will turn the ball over, especially unforced (when there) wasn’t a lot that was going on. It was just bad decisions, bad passes that happened.”

Valparaiso hasn’t played since dropping two games against visiting Missouri State last weekend, 81-68 and 71-68. Ben Krikke, who leads the team with an average of 12.2 points per game, averaged a team-best 16.5 points in those contests, hitting 14 of 26 field-goal attempts.

Crusaders coach Matt Lottich said after the latest defeat, “The message to the guys was simple. We’re not going to be excuse-makers. We have to look ourselves in the mirror. Our record is our reality. We have to get better.”

DePaul is 16-8 in the all-time series against Valparaiso, but the programs haven’t met since February 1980.

–Field Level Media

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