After four wins in their first five games, a stretch that included a marquee road win over the Oregon State Beavers, the Lamar Cardinals have suddenly began to struggle.
Entering Tuesday’s showdown with the DePaul Blue Demons, the Cardinals had lost back-to-back games on their four-game road swing. Lamar’s two losses were by an average of 18 points.
Despite sitting at 4-2 entering Tuesday, DePaul has struggled in its two losses on the year. In their previous outing, the Blue Demons trailed by as many as 39 points against the Northwestern Wildcats, ultimately losing the contest by 16, at 80-64.
Both teams were looking to get back on track, but only one could come away victorious.
Fortunately for the Blue Demons, the Cardinals shot themselves in the foot with a poor shooting performance, and DePaul capitalized on their opportunities.
Eli Cain scored a team-high 21 points, and DePaul rolled in the second half to the 80-61 victory over the Lamar Cardinals.
Out of the gate, the Cardinals stumbled, hitting just two of their first 13 attempts from the field, allowing DePaul to seize control of the game from the outset.
A three ball from Torey Noel early on gave the Cardinals their only lead of the game. From there, it was all about the Blue Demons, who scored the next five points to retake the lead for good.
With the game sitting at 16-12 in favour of the Blue Demons, the home team rattled off an 11-2 run that extended their lead to 13 points, at 27-14. Lamar answered with a run of their own to cut the deficit down to four points.
Dorian Chatman scored consecutive baskets for the Cardinals, then Colton Weisbrod added a pair of free throws and Joey Frenchwood capped the run off with a three pointer to get Lamar to within 27-23.
As quick as the Cardinals cut into the lead, DePaul extended it.
Over the final 1:54 of the opening half, the Blue Demons went on a 7-2 run to push their lead back up to nine before halftime, and they took a 34-25 advantage into the locker room.
DePaul continued to build on their lead in the second half, and Lamar was never able to take a lead of their own.
When all was said and done, DePaul came away with the 80-61 win over the Cardinals.
“We got out to a slow start and never recovered,” said Lamar head coach Tic Price following the game, referring to the Cardinals’ 2-for-13 stretch to open the contest. “We couldn’t get much to fall in the first half. DePaul is a talented team and we knew this was going to be tough.
“I’m proud of how Dorian Chatman and Zjori Bosha played tonight. They were bright spots for us,” concluded Price.
Chatman came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points, while the lesser-used Bosha scored 10 points in a reserve role. No starter for the Cardinals had more than 6 points on the night (Weisbrod, Frenchwood).
For the Blue Demons, the guard duo of Eli Cain and Billy Garrett, Jr. combined to score 36 points in the win. Cain scored a team-high 21 points, while Garrett, Jr. chipped in with 15 points of his own.
DePaul had a size advantage inside against the Cardinals, and they used it to their advantage. The Blue Demons finished the game with a +26 point differential for points in the paint, and they out-rebounded the Cardinals by a margin of 45-30.
As a team, Lamar shot just 30.0% (18-of-60) from the floor, while DePaul shot a cool 50.0% (27-of-54).
The loss was the third straight for the Lamar Cardinals (4-4, 0-0. They return home for their next game, which will be on Saturday against the Austin College Roos.
As for the DePaul Blue Demons (5-2, 0-0), they return to the hardwood on Saturday to take on the Temple Owls.
– T. Bennett