Northwestern's clutch 3-pointers in OT to beat DePaul 78-70
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Northwestern, a team of veteran players, put together a comeback that was led by the new guy on Saturday.
Freshman Aaron Falzon looked much like a veteran as he hit two 3-pointers in overtime - after going 0-for-6 in regulation - and the Wildcats beat DePaul 78-70.
The Wildcats (10-1) win over the Blue Demons has them off to their best start in four years.
Northwestern coach Chris Collins said that's what he expects of Falzon, who is on the court because he's a shooter.
''If he's open and doesn't shoot the ball with great confidence then he's hurting us,'' Collins said. ''I don't care if he misses six in a row or makes six in a row he has to shoot the seventh one.''
It was the fifth game where Falzon scored in double figures, including his debut game when Falzon set a school record for a freshman by scoring 20 against UMass Lowell.
''If you don't play with that kind of confidence then you shouldn't be out there and everybody on our team has great confidence in what Aaron brings,'' Collins said.
''He really wasn't heard of the whole game and we go to him in overtime and he hits two huge shots,'' Collins said. ''Our guys just refuse to lose in those situations. I love the fearlessness of a kid like Aaron Falzon.''
One of Northwestern's more experienced leaders was critical in the comeback as well.
Tre Demps also came on late. After scoring just two points in the first half, he finished with 18.
Demps said offseason dedication by several veteran players is paying off.
''Things we've been through, things like Navy SEAL training, guys being more dedicated ... those things add up, and it shows on the court,'' Demps said. ''When you miss a couple shots, you know you've practiced enough you can make that next shot. All the hard work is starting to show.''
Demps missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation for Northwestern, which had trailed most of the second half and was down by seven with less than five minutes to play.
Northwestern switched to a zone defense in the second half that seemed to stymie DePaul's attack. Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao said the team seemed to stop clicking.
''The last three, four minutes of the game and overtime it slipped, and then offensively, even before they went to the zone, we stopped executing the way we had been earlier in the game,'' Leitao said.
''They play with an air of confidence,'' Leitao said about Northwestern. ''It showed when it's supposed to show up, which is late-game situations. ... They got a couple key threes, which they hadn't gotten in previous moments of the game. That's what good teams do, they execute, especially when they need to.''
It was the seventh straight win for Northwestern.
Myke Henry had a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds for DePaul (5-6).
Sanjay Lumpkin and Alex Olah each contributed 14 points for Northwestern, and Bryant McIntosh added 13. Lumpkin, Olah and Demps all also had 7 rebounds.
Aaron Simpson added 13 points and eight rebounds for DePaul.
DePaul's leading scorer on the season, Billy Garrett, was held to seven points after getting in early foul trouble.
Northwestern: The win gave Northwestern its best 11-game start to a season since 2011 when the Wildcats also opened 10-1.
DePaul: Simpson, who averages 8.5 points per game, scored the Blue Demons' first 10 points.
Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey fouled out with 3:46 remaining in overtime. He had five points and four rebounds. The Wildcats dealt with foul trouble late in the game - four other players had four.
VAN ZEGEREN INJURY
Northwestern graduate transfer Joey van Zegeren isn't ready to return after missing three games with a foot injury, Collins said. ''We're hoping after Christmas - he's going to be re-evaluated this week.''
CHICAGO HOOPS REBOUND?
Collins said Northwestern's hot start is good for college basketball in the Chicago area, which hasn't seen much excitement in a couple of decades. ''It's important to both of our programs as we're building in this area to provide good basketball,'' Collins said.
DePaul: Hosts George Washington on Tuesday.
Northwestern: Hosts Sacred Heart on Monday.