NEWARK, N.J. (AP) —DePaul was trailing by eight points on the road to a nationally ranked team with five minutes left and its best player was soon to foul out.
But Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell gave his team one message down the stretch as they faced No. 24 Seton Hall on Thursday night.
“It’s simple: Just believe,” Purnell said after his team rallied in the closing minutes for a 64-60 win. “These are the things you have to do. The game was not over. I tried to preach to them that they had done it before, coming back from 13 against Marquette and 10 against St. John’s. This was like that. We had experiences like that.
“They had to believe.”
But not on the road and against a Top 25-ranked team. DePaul had lost 51 straight games against ranked teams dating to 2008 (No. 17 Villanova at home) and 2005 on the road (No. 16 Wake Forest).
“I wasn’t aware of that, but I’m not surprised,” said Purnell, in his fifth season at DePaul. “A lot of that happened before I got here, but I knew we hadn’t beaten once since I’ve been here.”
The Blue Demons (11-9, 5-2 Big East) are off to their best start in any conference since DePaul left independent status in 1991. DePaul joined the Big East in 2005.
The Blue Demons rallied after trailing 55-47 with 5:05 remaining. Soon after, the team’s leading scorer Billy Garrett Jr., whose father was once an assistant coach at Seton Hall, fouled out with 14 points. But the Blue Demons didn’t get demoralized.
“We certainly believe and have confidence that a team can build off things like this,” Purnell said. “We were behind, so that made things hard. Billy fouling out made things harder. But we’re in a good mindset right now. We had other guys who stepped up offensively and made big plays. This is a really nice win for us.”
Myke Henry also scored 14 for the Blue Demons, who defeated Seton Hall (13-5, 3-3) for the first time on the road after four previous losses.
Darrick Wood (11 points) and Rashaun Stimage (10 points) each hit clutch free throws in the closing seconds to enable the Blue Demons to get the win. Stimage, who came in averaging just 1.8 points per game, also grabbed a huge rebound with 3.9 seconds to ice the victory.
DePaul outscored Seton Hall 17-5 over the final five minutes.
Angel Delgado set career highs with 19 points and 19 rebounds for the Pirates. Khadeem Carrington added 12 before fouling out. Brandon Mobley added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Leading scorer Sterling Gibbs scored just four points, shooting just 2 of 16 shots from the floor and missing all seven of his shots from beyond the 3-point line.
“He’s been playing at such a high level and getting a lot of attention, but tonight, he just had a bad night,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. “It’s a good learning lesson for him. When he’s not making shots, he still has to make plays for his teammates.”
It looked as if Seton Hall had the game won, going on a 10-1 run, thanks to Mobley, who had two free throws, then had a monstrous breakaway dunk. Jaren Sina capped the run with a long 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 55-47 with 5:48 left.
The Pirates held the Blue Demons for more than five minutes without a field goal.
But the Blue Demons crept back into the game, courtesy of clutch plays from Wood and Stimage down the stretch. Wood’s power drive to the basket with 1:49 left gave the Blue Demons the lead for good.
“He’s never lacked for confidence,” Purnell said of Wood. “He hit that 3, then made that play. He has offensive ability. We’re just trying to make him more consistent. He’s had games where he didn’t play at all, but hung in there and tonight he helps us win the game.”
The Pirates turned the ball over on two possessions with a chance to tie in the final minute.
“We just got happy,” Mobley said. “We have to grow up. There’s not much more to say about it. We let them take this from us.”
DePaul notes: The Blue Demons are enjoying their best start in any conference since leaving independent status in 1991. DePaul joined the Big East in 2005 after stints in the now-defunct Great Midwest and Conference USA. … The Blue Demons have made at least one 3-point field goal in 664 consecutive games. … DePaul began a three-game, six-day road trip with the visit to the Prudential Center on Thursday night. … Since DePaul joined the Big East, Seton Hall was 4-0 at home against the Blue Demons.
No. 8 Notre Dame 85, Virginia Tech 60
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Jerian Grant scored 18 points to lead No. 8 Notre Dame to an 85-60 victory over Virginia Tech.
Grant shot 6 of 9 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, as the Fighting Irish (18-2, 6-1 ACC) won their third straight game. Pat Connaughton added 17 points and hit five 3-pointers on a night when the Fighting Irish shot 12 of 26 from beyond the 3-point arc. Zach Auguste finished with 16 points and Demetrius Jackson had 12.
The Irish led 38-28 at halftime and broke open the game with a 17-6 run to start the second half. Jackson hit two 3-pointers in that run, and a layup by Auguste gave Notre Dame a 55-34 lead — its biggest lead of the game — with 14:52 remaining.
Ahmed Hill scored 13 points for Virginia Tech (8-10, 0-5), which lost for the fifth straight time, four by double figures.
No. 23 Indiana 89, No. 13 Maryland 70
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell scored 24 points and Collin Hartman added a career high 15 to lead No. 23 Indiana to an 89-70 win over No. 13 Maryland.
The Hoosiers (15-4, 5-1 Big Ten) have won four straight and are tied with No. 6 Wisconsin for the conference lead.
Jake Layman had 13 points and Jared Nickens finished with 12 for Maryland (17-3, 5-2), which was off all night. The defense was shredded for a season-high point total and the league’s best 3-point defense allowed Indiana to make 15 3s.
Hartman got Indiana started by scoring seven points in the opening 12-3 flurry, which erased Maryland’s only lead of the game.
The Terrapins spent the rest of the night playing catch-up and finally tied the score at 26.
Indiana regained control with a 7-0 run and gradually extended the lead in the second half. Maryland couldn’t get closer than eight over the final 18½ minutes.
Seattle University 75, Chicago State 67.
Isiah Umipig scored 30 points as visiting Seattle University ended the game on a 16-0 run to defeat Chicago State 75-67.
Umipig was 8 of 12 from the field, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range, and hit 7 of 8 from the line.
Jarell Flora hit three 3-pointers and finished with 19 points for Seattle (10-8, 3-1 Western Athletic Conference). The Redhawks were 10 of 19 from 3-point range.
Joshua Meier led Chicago State (4-16, 0-3) with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was 7 of 11 from the field and a perfect 5 of 5 from the stripe. Sean Hill hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.
Chicago State scored 17 unanswered points to take a 59-49 lead, but missed its final nine field goals of the game.