Leitao Debut A Success
DeKALB, Ill. - The Dave Leitao era of DePaul basketball got off to a smashing start as the Blue Demons beat Northern Illinois 63-48 on Saturday in the first game at NIU's Convocation Center.
The Blue Demons' defense made the difference as the Huskies shot 33.3 percent (16-of-48) from the floor, compared to 49 percent (22-for-49) by the visitors. DePaul's zone defense dared Northern Illinois to shoot from the outside as NIU got off 25 shots from behind the arc, but could only convert seven for a 28.0 percent shooting percentage.
At the other end of the floor, the Blue Demons fed the ball inside and controlled the lane, holding a 28-16 edge in points in the paint, while outrebounding NIU 45-29. Thirteen of DePaul's rebounds came on the offensive glass, leading to 16 second-chance points.
Four of the Blue Demons' starting five reached double figures with forward Delonte Hollond topping the team at 16 points. Center Sam Hoskin turned in a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Tulley hit for 14 while Drake Diener added 10 points and a team-high four assists.
It was a tight game in the opening minutes and a three-pointer by P.J. Smith and a Marcus Smallwood lay-up keyed a 5-0 Huskie run to give NIU a 13-10 advantage with 14:56 remaining. Northern Illinois would get only one more basket in the next 11 minutes as DePaul went on a 12-2 to run before closing out the half up 30-15. The Blue Demons held the Huskies without a field goal for the final 9:49 of the opening half.
DePaul will be in action again on Saturday when Central Michigan comes to the Allstate Arena for a 1 p.m. game that will be broadcast on WSCR (670 AM).