Rutgers lost one of the “must win” games in the final slate of the schedule and the situation darkened with an injury to leading scorer Elijah Carter.
Falling 75-69 to the 15th place Blue Demons, the Scarlet Knights did not have enough to cap off a comeback with Carter in the locker room with a significant knee injury.
Forcing up a shot, Carter landed hard on his right leg with all of the pressure on his knee. Helped off the court, Carter went to the locker room with trainers and did not return.
"We're going to have to rally around and become stronger as a team," said Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice to reporters after the game. "People don't even understand what he does defensively for us. Night in and night out, he's on the best perimeter offensive player. We have a lot of big shoes to filled and we'll get it re-evaluated and it doesn't look good right now."
After arriving in Philadelphia for the next game, Rutgers announced that Carter is out for the season with a fractured fibula.
Carter left the game at the 14-minute mark with a knee injury and Rutgers trailing by eight points. Without their leading scorer, the Scarlet Knights made it competitive in his absence.
Fueled by a career-high 30 points from fellow sophomore Myles Mack, Rutgers retook the lead in the game after an 18-6 run but fell back on old habits in the final minute.
DePaul turned a turnover into a three-point play to take the lead back from Rutgers. Then an offensive rebound with 28 seconds on the clock sealed the victory for the Blue Demons.
Mack shot 11-of-19 from the floor in a season-high 34 minutes.
With Carter out, Rice relied more heavily on his bench. Chicago native Vincent Garret saw the court in front of friends and family. Garrett recorded two points and two rebounds off the bench in his homecoming at the Allstate Arena.
With the loss, Rutgers (13-11, 4-9) heads directly to Villanova needing a victory to keep NIT hopes alive. The Scarlet Knights and Wildcats tip off Monday night from the Pavilion.
"There's got to be more of a response to having a losing record in the Big East and tonight, when they were getting out-worked, we didn't have a response until the 32-minute mark in the game," Rice said. "... We act as if we're in first place and we're going to have to learn how to have a better response."