The DePaul Blue Demons are in the basement of the Big East almost every season. DePaul has finished last or second-to-last in the Big East for 10 straight years, and hasn’t made the men’s NCAA tournament since 2004. DePaul had another brutal year in conference play this year, finishing 3-17 in the Big East and ahead of only Georgetown.
The Blue Demons drew a matchup with Seton Hall in the first round of the 2023 Big East tournament, and somehow pulled out one of the most dramatic wins you will ever see. DePaul beat Seton Hall, 66-65, thanks to a remarkable comeback cemented by Nick Ongenda’s game-saving block at the buzzer.
After DePaul’s Umoja Gibson hit the go-ahead free throw, Seton Hall inbounded the ball under its own basket with 3.9 seconds left. Femi Odukale drove the length of the court and went for the game-winning layup, but it was swatted by Ongenda. The refs viewed it as goaltending to give Seton Hall the win, but immediately reviewed it. Upon review, the block was clean, and DePaul won. The Blue Demons now play No. 2 seed Xavier in the next round.
Watch the frantic final sequence here:
DEPAUL GETS THE BLOCK AND WINS! pic.twitter.com/U4GN1QuAu8— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) March 9, 2023
Here’s another look at the block. It couldn’t be any closer:
Another look at Nick Ongenda's game-winning block to give DePaul the win in the Big East tournament.— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) March 9, 2023
Refs initially ruled it as goaltending, but correctly changed it to a block after the review. DePaul went 3-17 in conference this year, but they've moving on in the tournament: pic.twitter.com/3LjbR91UHs
The fact that DePaul was ever up at all at the end of the game was so unlikely. The Blue Demons trailed by five points with 45 seconds left until Jalen Terry hit this pull-up three to make it a two-point game.
JALEN TERRY FROM CHICAGO!— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) March 9, 2023
What a #BEtourney finish we've got coming. pic.twitter.com/vpCFrQtVGo
After a pair of free throws by Seton Hall, Terry made a layup with on the next possession with six seconds left to put DePaul back down two. Then he stole the inbounds pass and kicked it to Umoja Gibson, who was fouled taking a three-pointer. Gibson hit all three free throws, despite Seton Hall icing him with a timeout after the second one.
DePaul might be a Big East bottom-feeder, but they still got to have an amazing moment in Madison Square Garden in the biggest game most of their players have ever played in. This is why we love college basketball. There’s nothing like it.