Otule powers MU past Depaul in OT 96-94

CO2 with 12 pts/ played vs DePaul's physical posts

ROSEMONT-- Every game the rest of the way matters for the Marquette Golden Eagles, but they got everything they could handle from the DePaul Blue Demons at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. The Blue Demons (10-18, 2-13) entered Saturday's contest on a nine-game losing streak in the Big East, but the Golden Eagles (16-11, 8-6) found a way to hang on with a 96-94 victory in overtime.

Four players combined for 61 of Marquette's 96 points, which was the second-highest total of the season for the Golden Eagles. Davante Gardner led the way with 22 points, Todd Mayo poured in 19, Jamil Wilson had 18 and Chris Otule scored all 12 of his points in the second half and overtime.

[Todd Mayo scored 19 pts off the bench.]

Freshman point guard Billy Garrett Jr. starred for DePaul with 29 points, including the game-tying triple with 2.6 seconds left in regulation. Brandon Young added another 26 and Durell McDonald was the third-highest scorer with 13 points.

The Blue Demons began the game 0-for-11 from the floor and didn't hit their first field goal until the 13:22 mark, when Garrett Jr. sank a three. The Golden Eagles couldn't take advantage of the cold start and the back-and-forth battle began when DePaul took its first lead just two minutes after hitting its first shot.

"How we started defensively was maybe the best we've played all year," head coach Buzz Williams said. "We went from being as good as you can be, to as bad as you can be."

[Davante was effective in the paint]

The Golden Eagles scored 48 points in the paint, but the unsung hero was Otule, who emerged in the second half and was a force down low. Along with his 12 points, Otule brought down four offensive rebounds, including a put-back jam off of a missed free throw by Todd Mayo.

"I thought he was the difference," Williams said. "I think he's transcended this program because of who he is everyday. I can't articulate the respect I have for him and how much I am reveling in him as his career unfolds."

"Chris was huge on both sides of the floor," Wilson said. "He's just so massive, he did a great job and I'm really proud of him."

"I just got more aggressive and confident as the game went on," Otule said. "It was very physical. Number 55 is one of the best defensive players in this league."

The Golden Eagles started the second half on a 14-2 run and led by 15, but DePaul fought back with a 25-10 run and tied the game back up at 68 with 6:20 left on the clock. With just eight seconds left, Jamil Wilson hit a pair of free throws to put the Golden Eagles up 82-79, but Garrett Jr. received the unguarded inbounds pass, dribbled up the court, pulled up and drilled the three that sent the DePaul faithful into hysteria.

[Davante Gardner power's in two of his 22pts]

In overtime, Gardner took over. The two teams traded buckets, but with DePaul leading 89-88 and under two minutes left on the clock, Gardner corralled his own miss, repositioned himself and scored a crucial and-one basket, putting Marquette back on top 91-89.

"Davante was able to score slightly before the trap was coming, but that was a big play for sure," Williams said.

[John Dawson scored on this pullup jumper and hit a three in the 1H.]

The Golden Eagles will take the hardwood next against the Georgetown Hoyas on Thursday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Williams said he doesn't know how the final stretch of the season will play out, but still has faith that his team can get an NCAA Tournament bid.

"It should be a fun couple of weeks," Williams said. "How it all plays out, I don't think anybody knows. I know everybody's already counted us out, but that's somewhat been the story of my career and the careers of a lot of the kids on this team."

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