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Rutgers falls to DePaul following wild finish, 73-70

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The Scarlet Knights drop their first game of the season.

NCAA Basketball: New Jersey Tech at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It took a total of 36 minutes for both offenses to show up.

The final nine field goals of the game came from beyond the arc but for Rutgers, it was too little too late.

The Scarlet Knights were unable to overcome a slow start for the fourth straight game on Thursday night in Chicago. Rutgers suffered its first loss of the season 73-70 to DePaul at Wintrust Arena.

Rutgers (3-1) continued to struggle out of the gate. The Scarlet Knights have trailed at halftime in the first three games of the season and they all ended with victories. They were asked to do the same once again.

After a stagnant offensive start, Rutgers put together some productive sets midway through the first half. A Ron Harper Jr. three-pointer gave the Scarlet Knights a 23-16 lead with 8:19 left in the first half. From that moment on, Rutgers saw the ball go through the basket just three times.

DePaul (3-0) went on a 17-6 run, aided by fouls and turnovers by Rutgers, to grab control of the contest. The Blue Demons led 33-29 heading into the break. Neither team shot it well through 20 minutes, 41.9% for Rutgers and 31.3% for DePaul, but there was a glaring discrepancy from the foul line.

The Scarlet Knights attempted just two free throws in the first half while DePaul finished 10-for-16. Rutgers also turned the ball over eight times, with four coming from Harper Jr. Eight players scored for Rutgers in the first half but they left much to be desired offensively.

The second half started out with a better pace as the Scarlet Knights went on a 12-5 run to regain the lead. DePaul did not go away and continued to get to the free throw line at a high rate.

The Blue Demons attempted 33 free throws compared to just six from Rutgers. DePaul let the Scarlet Knights hang around by missing key free throws in the second half. They finished just 18-for-33 on the night.

After a Cliff Omoruyi layup gave Rutgers a three-point lead with 4:21 left in the game, the three-point onslaught began. David Jones, who finished with a game-high 22 points, knocked down three shots from beyond the arc to help salt the game away for the Blue Demons. Harper Jr. knocked down three’s on consecutive possessions to give the Scarlet Knights a chance but DePaul was also prepared to answer.

Harper Jr. notched his fourth consecutive double-double to begin the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

The early-season struggles for Rutgers continued on Thursday night and they were hard to overcome on the road. As the season progresses, the Scarlet Knights need to figure out a way to get things going offensively over the first 20 minutes. This is imperative before Big Ten play begins.