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Late Rally Comes Up Short in Loss to Cincinnati
Cleveland Melvin scored a career-high 32 points against Cincinnati Tuesday night.


Cleveland Melvin scored a career-high 32 points against Cincinnati Tuesday night.

Jan. 15, 2013

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ROSEMONT, Ill. - The last-chance comeback was fast and furious and had the Allstate Arena crowd on its feet as DePaul nearly erased an 11-point deficit in a matter of 55 pulsating seconds.

But when they finally ran out of time, the Blue Demons had come up short 75-70 to No. 24 Cincinnati in an entertaining BIG EAST Conference showdown.

Trailing 70-59 with 62 seconds left, DePaul (10-7, 1-3 in the BIG EAST) almost pulled off a Hollywood finish. Cleveland Melvin scored six of his career-high 32 points, Brandon Young finagled in a layup and Charles McKinney hit a crucial three-pointer to bring their team within 73-70 with seven seconds to go.

 Sean Kilpatrick's two free throws put an end to the rally.

"We were attacking and scoring," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "They were holding the ball and working the shot clock. The guys battled, and when we started scoring at the end, you can catch up pretty quickly."

DePaul played some inspired basketball at the beginning and at the end. The Blue Demons came out on fire, hitting five of their first seven shots in shooting out to a 13-2 lead. They scored the first nine points of the game, highlighted by a Melvin three-pointer.

Their 11-3 run at the end almost brought them all the way back.

Unfortunately, there were two offensive dry spells in between that they couldn't quite overcome. The Blue Demons scored two points in more than seven minutes in the first half and scored just two points in six-and-a-half stretch in the second half.

"We dug ourselves too deep a hole after those two critical stretches," Purnell said. "We had some good looks from three-point range in the second half. Moses Morgan had some good looks and Jamee Crockett had some chances at the basket."

In addition to Melvin's 32 points and eight rebounds, Brandon Young finished with 18 points, four assists and three steals while Charles McKinney added 10 points, four assists and three steals.

"We didn't get enough production from other guys," Purnell said. "We didn't get much from the three-spot (small forward), and our backup guards didn't give us much. To beat a good team like Cincinnati, we need production from five or six guys."

DePaul's attempt to rally from a double-digit deficit in the final six minutes met resistance from a Cincinnati defense that coming into the game had allowed 60 or more points just three times since the beginning of December.

Compounding matters, the Bearcats fell back into a 2-3 zone defense with 7-foot, 1-inch David Nyarsuk alternating with 6-10 Cheikh Mbodj (seven blocked shots) near the basket.

Cincinnati (15-3, 3-2) began asserting itself with a 12-0 run from the end of the first half to early in the second half. Cashmere Wright (20 points, seven assists) had eight of the points in that stretch.

Melvin's three-point play left his team with a 51-41 deficit. After trailing by 14, DePaul narrowed the gap to 55-47 after Young and Melvin combined on a 6-0 run. The Bearcats re-established a 14-point lead midway through the second half.

"It was tough at the end, but we had a lot of energy and were trying to come back and win," Melvin said. "We should have pressed the ball even more. We're capable of pressing for 40 minutes

 "I was running the floor tonight and being patient on offense. My teammates did a good job of looking for me. As a team, we have to do a better job of being patient on offense while going at them defensively for the whole 40 minutes."

After the slow start, the Bearcats bounced back with a 15-2 run to take 17-15 lead. Melvin finally snapped the Blue Demon offensive dry spell.

As the lead went back and forth, it became apparent that DePaul was at its best in the first half whenever McKinney was on the floor using his athleticism to support Melvin and Young. McKinney was making athletic plays, snatching offensive rebounds, dishing to his teammates and driving to the basket for layups. By halftime, he had seven points and four assists.

Cincinnati scored six unanswered points in moving ahead 36-30. Back came the Blue Demons with a six-point sequence featuring a Donnavan Kirk layup followed by a Young steal and assist to a Melvin basket. At the other end, a Kirk blocked shot led to a Melvin lob dunk from Young.

Despite yet another Melvin score, Cincinnati went into the halftime locker room with a 41-38 lead. Melvin had 15 points in the first 20 minutes.

DePaul will kick off Hall of Fame weekend with an 11 a.m. BIG EAST game Saturday against St. John's at Allstate Arena. Former Blue Demons Stanley Brundy and Terence Greene will be among the class of 2013 inductees into the DePaul Athletic Hall of Fame that will be honored at halftime.

The Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony is at 11 a.m. Sunday at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Postgame Notes:

- Tuesday was the 50th all-time meeting between the two programs... Cincinnati leads the series by a 35-15 margin... the Bearcats have won five straight games in the series.

- DePaul gave up its largest lead of the season tonight of 11 points in the first half... previously, it was a 10-point lead at Chicago State on Dec. 5.

- Cincinnati's Cheikh Mbodj set a new Allstate Arena record for an opponent with seven blocked shots... as a team, Cincinnati tied the arena opponent record with a combined 12 rejections... Southern posted 12 blocked shots on Dec. 19, 2008.

- Cleveland Melvin recorded a career-high with 32 points... it is his second game this season and third of his career with 30 or more points.

- Melvin moved into 25th all-time on DePaul's scoring list.

- Over the last three games, Brandon Young is 17-for-18 (.944) from the free throw line.