In his first game wearing AU blue transfer Vlad “the Impaler” Moldoveanu notched 26 points and drove the AU Eagles Men’s Basketball team to a 62-57 upset over DePaul Wednesday night, their first win over a Big East Conference team in more than a decade.
The Romanian forward went five for 10 from behind the arc, led AU with four assists and grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Nick Hendra had his best game of the year with a career high 17 points and Stephen Lumpkins tallied a game high 14 boards. Defense was crucial for the Eagles down the stretch, as they dominated DePaul on the glass 39-27.
“This kind of game [from Moldoveanu] was within consideration, I think,” Head Coach Jeff Jones told wearedepaul.com after the game. “He’s our best player. That’s not a surprise to anybody.”
AU started off on the right foot, knocking down three of its first four shots. Five minutes in, Moldoveanu entered the game and made an immediate impact by hitting a three. The two teams continued to trade buckets throughout the half until the Eagles jumped out to a 9-0 run with a little over five minutes remaining. Ten points apiece from Hendra and Moldoveanu, coupled with tremendous defensive play by Lumpkins, led the Eagles to a 32-24 advantage at the break. AU shot 50 percent from the field in the first half.
The second half started the same way it has all season for AU with sluggish play. DePaul opened up with an 11-0 run, giving them a 35-34 lead with 15:35 left in the game. Fortunately for the Eagles, Hendra and Moldoveanu picked up where they left off in the first half, as the pair combined for AU’s next 14 points. DePaul’s sophomore duo of Devin Hill and Eric Wallace were able to keep it close, scoring nearly half of the Blue Demons’ second half points.
In a game with 17 lead changes, the Blue Demons and Eagles continued trading baskets until Hendra hit a three with just under three minutes to play. Free throws by Moldoveanu and freshman Daniel Munoz sealed the game for AU and gave them the 62-57 victory.
“We didn’t have any tape of [Moldoveanu], but we talked about him,” DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright told DePaul Athletics. “We did an extremely poor job of defending him and he gave them a lot of confidence.”
The five-point margin of victory is significant because the Tennessee Volunteers, currently ranked ninth in the NCAA, only managed to beat the Blue Demons by four a month ago. The upset is also AU’s biggest since the Eagles won at Maryland in 2007 and their first over a Big East opponent in over a decade.
After transferring from George Mason as a sophomore, Moldoveanu proved that his outstanding performance in last summer’s FIBA Qualifying Tournament was not a fluke. Moldoveanu’s play gives the Eagles a much needed scoring threat both in the post and behind the arc. His arrival will fill part of the void left by the graduation of Derrick Mercer and Garrison Carr.
Next up on AU’s slate is a showdown with University of Maryland-Baltimore County at Bender Arena this Saturday.