Young and DePaul Come So Close
Jan. 4, 2011
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Brandon Young had the ball in his hands with three seconds left and just 19 feet separating him from making one of the biggest shots in recent DePaul history.
"I thought it looked good---it felt good," Young said. "It just didn't go in."
And with that, the Blue Demons fell just short of West Virginia by a 67-65 score Tuesday night in their BIG EAST conference home opener at Allstate Arena.
"Coming out of the huddle, if I had known we'd get that shot---I'd take it," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "We got the shot we wanted, and a really good one."
During the timeout, crafty West Virginia coach Bob Huggins switched his team into a 1-3-1 zone in an effort to protect a 66-65 lead.
"I was hoping it would make them run more clock than they wanted to," Huggins said of the game-deciding sequence that began with 12 seconds left.
Just prior to the Blue Demon timeout, Tony Freeland had secured a huge defensive rebound.
So, what was going through Huggins' head in the waning seconds of the game?
"If he makes it, we lose," he said.
Purnell was one step ahead of his BIG EAST counterpart, setting up a play that works equally well against a man-to-man or zone defense.
Trailing by 14 points midway through the second half, DePaul (6-9, 0-3 in the BIG EAST) went on an 11-2 run and closed to within 60-55 on a Jimmy Drew three-pointer with 5:04 to go. Krys Faber scored six points during the DePaul burst.
The Blue Demons battled to stay within striking distance until Jeremiah Kelly hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game at 63-63 with 1:31 left.
Darryl Bryant converted a three-point play to give West Virginia (9-4, 1-2) a 66-63 lead with 1:18 to go.
A clutch steal by Drew---who started for the first time this season---led to a pair of Young free throws with :49 on the clock. A foul shot by John Flowers accounted for the final margin.
"We just believe in our system," Kelly said about erasing the 14-point deficit. "If we keep putting the pressure on, we knew they would let us back in the game at some point."
Huggins didn't agree with Kelly's assessment.
"It wasn't so much the pressure," Huggins said. "It was just us making dumb plays and really bad decisions in the half court."
Cleveland Melvin led DePaul with 17 points---the freshman's eighth-straight game in double figures. Fellow freshman Young had 12 points and Faber added 10. Casey Mitchell led West Virginia with 18 points.
After falling behind by nine, DePaul narrowed West Virginia's lead to 34-31 at halftime. Young and Melvin led the way, combining for 18 of the Blue Demons' points in the first 20 minutes.
Melvin came into the game as the two-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week and was averaging 25.3 points in his last three games. The 6-foot, 8-inch forward scored a career-high 29 points in last Saturday's 86-75 loss at Georgetown.
Young won the BIG EAST rookie award in early December. It's the first time two DePaul freshmen have been honored in the same season. Melvin (12.7 points per game) and Young (12.6) came into Tuesday's game as the top-scoring freshmen in the league.
"They're both talented," Huggins said. "Melvin is so quick off his feet and gets his shot off faster than you expect. He has a terrific second jump.
"Young finishes so well going to his left and really sees the floor. He always finds Melvin."
The Blue Demons enter their longest break of the BIG EAST schedule with the next game Jan. 12 against Seton Hall at Allstate Arena.
"After three tough games in a short stretch, the rest will do us some good," Purnell said.