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Blue Demons Drop BIG EAST Opener with Seton Hall, 73-72
Freshman guard Durrell McDonald finished with a career-high 12 points.


Freshman guard Durrell McDonald finished with a career-high 12 points.

Jan. 2, 2013

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – There was no mistaking the look of heartbreak on Jamee Crockett’s face as he walked off the Allstate Arena court Wednesday night.

After playing his best game of the season, Crockett was just a touch off-target with a potential game-winning shot in DePaul’s tough 73-72 loss to Seton Hall in both teams’ BIG EAST Conference opener.

Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin had scored on a baseline drive with 9.6 seconds left. The Blue Demons set up a play against Seton Hall’s zone defense. Brandon Young inbounded the ball in the middle of the zone to Donnavan Kirk who passed back out to Crockett for a good look from 18 feet away in the final seconds.

“It felt good when it left my hand,” said Crockett who led DePaul with a season-high 16 points along with a team-high seven rebounds and a career-high five steals. “The play was for Donnavan to pass out to one of the shooters (Young or Crockett).

“Sometimes the ball rolls your way and sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t roll my way this time.”

Crockett hit a big jumper in extending the Blue Demon lead to 67-64 with 3:53 on the clock. Aaron Cosby (24 points) hit a three, but Young scored on a physical drive to the hoop. Cosby’s pair of foul shots left DePaul with a 70-69 lead and 2:19 showing on the clock.

A whirling Durrell McDonald shot restored a three-point lead until 6-foot, 9-inch, 290-pound Eugene Teague’s power basket inside made it 72-71 with 59 seconds left. Teague finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

“We hurt ourselves at the free throw line (15-of-25) and with our inability to clear our defensive rebounds---particularly at the end of the game,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. “In the final 15 seconds we made a couple of stops but couldn’t come up with the ball.

“At the end we got the exact shot we wanted, but it just didn’t go in. We had our chances tonight, and there were a lot of squandered opportunities in a close game.”

A Young basket followed by a Crockett three-pointer had put DePaul (9-5, 0-1)) ahead 64-59. Brandon Mobley (16 points, 10 rebounds) scored five unanswered points to tie it 64-64 with just over five minutes left. Young’s foul shot gave the home team a one-point lead.

Three Seton Hall turnovers and five quick points from McDonald sliced the Pirate lead to 43-39 early in the second half. DePaul had forced 17 Seton Hall miscues with more than 17 minutes left in the second half.

After trailing by 12 late in the first half, the Blue Demons outscored the Seton Hall 16-6 to pull within 46-44 on a Crockett jump shot. A helter-skelter, up-and-down tempo was more to DePaul’s liking in the second half.

By the middle of the second half, DePaul had already forced 20 turnovers---including 13 steals. Seton Hall (12-2, 1-0) finished with 21 turnovers.

McDonald’s shot-clock beating three-pointer tied the game 52-52 with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Young followed with a three-point play that culminated an 8-0 run and put the Blue Demons in front 55-52. After a Charles McKinney rebound basket, Mobley’s five points tied it again at 57-57. McKinney came away with 10 points and held Seton Hall’s best player, Edwin, to 11 points.

“Jamee Crockett is coming,” Purnell said. “If he hits that last shot, we might be saying he’s arrived. He’s a guy who is going to be one of our three scorers along with Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin. Hopefully, he’s starting to hit his stride.”

Young finished with 15 points and five rebounds while McDonald had a career-high 12 points.

“He played well,” Purnell said of McDonald. “We need his pressure defense, and he is our best guy on the ball with one-on-one pressure. He was very aggressive offensively tonight, and he has to be aggressive for us. He gave us a chance to win.”

Melvin only contributed six points in 15 minutes of play and was on the bench down the stretch.

”Cleveland looked a little listless out there and was forcing things,” Purnell said. “I went with a smaller lineup that began clicking for us. They got us the lead, and I decided to stay with those guys.”

The BIG EAST season got off to a rousing start for the Blue Demons. A steal on the game’s opening possession wound up in Young’s hands, and the point guard lofted a lob pass to Melvin for a two-hand slam dunk.

Seton Hall answered back with three consecutive three-point shots. That early long-distance accuracy translated into a 19-12 lead as the Pirates connected on five of their first six attempts from beyond the arc. Cosby made his first three from distance.

Cosby had half of his team’s points as Seton Hall led 30-26 with less than four minutes to go in the first half. DePaul was patiently finding openings in the Pirate zone defense but was unable to convert, making just 11 of its first 27 shots.

A 10-2 Pirate burst gave the visiting team a 40-28 lead. Crockett retaliated with a put-back and McDonald’s buzzer-beating jumper left DePaul with a 40-32 deficit at halftime.

Three-point shooting was the determining factor in the first 20 minutes as Seton Hall had a 7-0 advantage in baskets beyond the arc. The Pirates finished 10-of-24 from long distance while DePaul was 3-for-10.

The Blue Demons look to even their BIG EAST record with a 7 p.m. game Saturday at Providence.

Postgame Notes:

• Tonight's game marked the 13th meeting all-time between the two schools. Seton Hall now holds the advantage in the series, 9-3.
• DePaul is 1-7 in BIG EAST season openers since joining the conference.
• DePaul extended its streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 593... Durrell McDonald extended the run with a three at the 17:52 mark in the second half... the last time the Blue Demons failed to hit from beyond the arc was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena.
• Freshman guard Durrell McDonald finished with a career-high 12 points. He also hit a career-high two three-pointers.
• Sophomore forward Jamee Crockett finished with a career-high five steals and scored in double figures for the fourth time in his past six games, finishing with a season-high 16 points.
• Junior guard Brandon Young reached double figures for the 13th time in 14 games this season, finishing with 15 points.