DePaul continues great start with a memorable win over Texas Tech
CHICAGO – It wasn’t a full house, the hosts weren’t ranked and the opponents weren’t either. Yet this night at Wintrust Arena is one that fans of DePaul could remember for a long time.
There are moments where a program takes a step in their building towards success, and Wednesday night was certainly that for the Blue Demons, even if it is just December 4th.
It was an exciting contest against defending national runner-up Texas Tech that comes on the heels of eight-straight wins to start the season. It featured a low-scoring defensive battle in which DePaul used timely offense to force the game to overtime.
Then in the extra sessions, they closed it out to come home with a 65-60 victory over the Red Raiders, easily their biggest win in the second Dave Leitao era that began in 2015.
Jalen Coleman-Lands played the hero late, tying the game with a three-pointer with eight seconds left in regulation, then putting DePaul ahead for good in overtime with another hoop from behind the arc with 57 seconds to go. His eight points in the extra session pushed DePaul to 9-0 on the season, their best start since the 1986-1987 campaign and the program’s first nine-game winning streak since 1993-1994.
To put it in perspective, DePaul had just nine total wins in Leitao’s first two seasons in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Including those campaigns, the Blue Demons now have equaled or bested five of their season win totals since the last time they made the NCAA Tournament in 2004.
Getting to that total was all about the defense from the start to the finish, as the teams locked down on that end. Making a name for themselves in the NCAA Tournament with their defense, Chris Bears’ Red Raiders had a 26-23 halftime lead and appeared ready to pull away late in the second half thanks to a Chicago native. Former Lincoln Park High School standout Terrence Shannon Jr. knocked down a three-pointer with 3:20 to go to put Texas Tech up by six, adding to his game-high 24 points.
DePaul got it within three in the closing moments when Coleman-Lands got wide open on the wing with under ten seconds left and hit a triple to even things up at 53. A Blue Demons stop to end regulation set up overtime and once again it was the Red Raiders that established the lead, going up by four on a Shannon jumper with 2:08 to go. As he’d done all game, Coleman-Lands came through with a pair of three-pointers after that which finally gave the home team the lead for good.
He finished with 18 points on the night with ten coming in the final seconds of regulation and then overtime, with Paul Reed also chipping in 18 and Jaylen Butz getting 17. Yet it was Coleman-Lands who got hoisted on shoulders after the game by DePaul students that rushed the court after one of the team’s biggest wins in a decade.
Perhaps the win wouldn’t have been court-storming worthy at other places, or maybe even later this season for the program. But at this moment, it seemed right after a memorable night at Wintrust Arena.