The Bearcats got win 16, and improved to 7-8 in the Big East by downing the Blue Demons of DePaul Wednesday night. DePaul took it's 9th loss in a row, and is now 8-19, 1-14. The Bearcats really couldn't afford to lose this game, and they kinda tried to. If I'm going to highlight the positives, I have to highlight the big negative, the free throw shooting. I will in a minute because a couple Bearcats had career days, and I am going to give them their due first. Yancy Gates showed up ready to dominate, and the big man did. Yancy put in a career high 23 points on 11-15 shooting, and gobbled up 8 rebounds, 6 offensive. DePaul had no answer for him. Lance Stephenson practiced until 2 am Wednesday morning and it paid off. Lance had the best game of his career, and one of the best all around Bearcat games in a long time. Born Ready had 18 points on 7-12, 10 rebounds, 5 offensive, and 4 assists. And he dunked on Mac Koshwal's face. It was an NBA performance by the talented freshman.
To the big negative, Cincinnati was a horrific 14-32. Just think about that. If UC hit free throws, this game would have been a blow out. It was the worst I have ever seen a team shoot free throws in my life. I coached 8 year olds, and they wouldn't go 14-32 with the college lines. It was beyond pathetic. Ibrahima Thomas was 2-5, Steve Toyloy 0-1, Deonta Vaughn 2-5, Lance Stephenson 4-8, Larry Davis 3-4, Dion Dixon 1-2, Yancy Gates 1-5, and Cashmere Wright 1-2. Awful. Let's get to the game recap.
The first basket of the game spoke a lot to how this one was going to play out, as Cincinnati scored on a Steve Toyloy put back. Cincinnati would control the glass all night. UC scored the first 6, with open lay ups for Rashad Bishop and Deonta Vaughn. DePaul got their first 3 from Mac Koshwal, as the big man hit a free throw, and displayed a nice turn move for an open dunk. UC took an 8-3 lead into the first tv timeout when Ibrahima Thomas hit Yancy Gates for a bucket and a foul. Gates would miss the free throw. UC continued to hit the offensive glass, this time it was Lance Stephenson scoring on a put back. The lead stayed around 7, as we had buckets by Jeremiah Kelly, Gates, Krys Faber, a goaltend by Darnell Wilks on a breakaway lay up attempt by Kelly, a Gates free throw line jumper, and a Cashmere Wright fast break dunk when Dion Dixon tipped the ball loose to Rashad Bishop, who hit Cash with a half court bounce pass. UC lead 16-9 at that point, and built the lead to 20-11 after a Koshwal tip in for DePaul, and a Wright lay up and Bishop runner for UC. The Blue Demons would go on a run. Kelly, who averages 5 points, nailed a 3 for his 7th, and last, point. Mike Stovall iced a jumper, and after UC had a press break leading to a Gates dunk from Larry Davis, Michael Bizoukas hit a 3 to make it 22-19. Vaughn had a lay up blocked by Koshwal, leading to a Devin Hill breakaway dunk in which not a one UC player moved I don't think. The Blue Demons took the lead after Steve Toyloy dropped a pass at one end, and on the other fouled Koshwal who scored. He missed the free throw, but DePaul had a 23-22 lead at the 5 minute mark. UC would counter that run with one of their own to close the half. Lance Stephenson got to the line twice, making the first pair, and on the second pair, made the first, and missed the second, but Gates got the rebound and scored on a putback. Larry Davis hit a runner from the right baseline, Gates scored inside on a pass from Stephenson, and Larry Davis hit 2 free throws for an 11-0 Cat run. The Demons got 3 back on a Will Walker triple. The Bearcats finished on a 13-3 overall run, as Lance Stephenson ended the half with Sportscenter top play #4 by jumping over Koshwal for the dunk. It's pictured up top, and right here. UC lead 35-26 at the break.
Half two started well for UC as Dion Dixon, my best friend, made a jumper. Koshwal scored 4 quick for DePaul, but UC got them back with buckets by Stephenson on a put back, and a coast to coast lay up, in which he drew a foul, but missed the free throw, around a Toyloy inside score. Will Walker started his second half scoring by hitting a pair of free throws. Tony Freeland had a nasty putback dunk to cut the lead to 9, but UC got it to 12 at the 15:30 mark as Stephenson found Gates who scored with some harm. Walker started getting hot, as he got a lay up and hit a 3. Ibrahima Thomas shocked the world, and considering how UC shot free throws in the game, he really did, by making a pair of free throws. Yes, Ibrahima Thomas. Freeland and Gates exchanged put backs, Gates' coming on the 4th UC shot of the possession. DePaul was down 9 with 12:28, and would cut the lead. Will Walker drilled another j, and his name has to be typed out in full. Lance Stephenson scored on a turnaround jumper from the elbow, but Koshwal would score. Koshwal score again on a move that drew a foul from Toyloy, and after the made free throw, it was a 4 point game 52-48 with 10 minutes left. Dixon made 1 of 2 at the line, and Rashad Bishop hit a shot, but that was wiped away by a Faber bucket, foul, and free throw. Will Walker got to the rim easily and it was a 2 point game. UC went right back inside, and got 4 points. Steve Toyloy scored and got fouled. When he missed the free throw, Yancy Gates got the board and scored. Michael Bizoukas hit his second 3 for the last of his 5 points to cut the lead back in half with 6 minutes left. UC would stretch the lead out. Gates would hit a turnaround, get fouled, but miss the free throw. However UC saved the ball off DePaul, and Ibrahima Thomas got fouled. He missed the front end of a 1-1, but once again the Cats saved the ball off a Blue Demon, leading to Lance Stephenson hitting a step back jumper. UC kept the 63-56 lead to the 3:53 mark. UC turned on the defense, forcing a travel by Walker and Koshwal turnover, leading to Stephenson hooking Gates up for a dunk. Koshwal quickly got a traditional 3 point play to cut it to 6. DePaul seemed to be unsure to foul, because Deonta Vaughn was able to get to the basket, score and get fouled. He missed the free throw. Walker scored, but the Blue Demons seemed unsure of whether or not to foul again, leading to Stephenson scoring and getting fouled. He made the free throw. Will Walker drilled another 3, but after Cash hit 1 of 2 at the line, DePaul turned the ball over. Vaughn hit 1 of 2, but UC fouled Walker on the other end, who hit both. Vaughn would get fouled once again, and would make 1 of 2 once again, but once again UC saved the ball off DePaul. That set the record for most once agains in one sentence. Larry Davis hit 1 of 2. The scoring, and game, ended after Will Walker made 3 free throws after Lance fouled him sillily on a 3 attempt.
Let's give DePaul credit. Their kids play really hard. They don't have a ton of talent outside of Walker, and Koshwal, but they do their best. Koshwal was really good, and had 19-12. Will Walker had 3 in the first half, but exploded for 21 in the second for his 24. DePaul shot 24-46 40.6%, 6-17 35.3%, 11-13 84.6%, with 31 rebounds, 10 offensive. Jeremiah Kelly had 7, Michael Bizoukas 6, Krys Faber 5-7, Tony Freeland 4-4, Devin Hill and Mike Stovall had 2. Cincinnati shot 30-59 50.8%, 0-9, 14-32 43.8%, with 44 rebounds, 16 offensive. Gates and Stephenson were highlighted up top, Deonta Vaughn, Steve Toyloy and Rashad Bishop had 6, Larry Davis and Cashmere Wright 5, Dion Dixon 3, and Ibrahima Thomas 2. But, Ibrahima had 10 rebounds. UC had 2 double digit rebounders for the first time since the Vanderbilt game.
This was an important game in the sense that UC couldn't lose, and they didn't. It wasn't the most impressive game, or the best to watch, but it was win 16, and that's all that matters. Now it's onto Morgantown to meet West Virginia and their coach who seems vaguely familiar. Let's see that Lance picture again. Thanks for the great shot Enquirer and Gary Landers.