Although Northwestern’s (7-6) fate seemed all but sealed until the last seconds of its first game against cross-town rival DePaul (8-5) in five seasons, it took a Blue Demons buzzer beater to finish the Wildcats 57-56 on Friday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
After leading for less than two minutes at the start of the game, NU got out in front of DePaul only twice throughout the contest. The Cats’ most promising lead came after junior guard Dave Sobolewski sank his only shot of the evening out of 8 attempts, a 3-pointer with five seconds left in the game.
Sobolewski was otherwise unable to break his shooting slump against the Blue Demons. The junior ended the game with only 6 points.
NU’s shooting woes did not end with the point guard. The Cats’ starting five combined for only 24 points, 15 of which came from senior forward Drew Crawford.
Sophomore center Alex Olah fouled out of the game without scoring – but chipped in with 9 rebounds to lead the team – and freshman forward Sanjay Lumpkin made only 1 field goal. Even Crawford, usually a dependable scorer for the Cats, made only 5 of his 17 attempted field goals. The Cats shot 32.1 percent for the evening, while the Blue Demons scraped by shooting 36.8 percent.
While NU’s veteran leaders flailed against DePaul, sophomore guard Tre Demps emerged as the Cats’ lone bright spot.
Demps was the only NU player who was able to turn scrappiness into success. The sophomore led the team with a career-high 23 points.
The Cats have five days off to restore both their confidence and shooting game before hosting Wisconsin on Thursday to kick off Big Ten play.
— Ava Wallace