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Curington's Career Day Not Enough in 77-72 Loss to Providence
R.J. Curington reached double-figures for the second straight game, finishing with a career-high 22 points on Saturday.

R.J. Curington reached double-figures for the second straight game, finishing with a career-high 22 points on Saturday.

Feb. 1, 2014

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­­ROSEMONT, Ill. – They were undermanned, shorthanded, whatever you want to call it---and yet these Blue Demons never looked for excuses or sympathy.

Instead, DePaul uncovered some new heroes in battling Providence right to the end of a 77-72 BIG EAST Conference loss Saturday at Allstate Arena.

After recording a season-high 15 points last week at Seton Hall, seldom-used freshman R.J. Curington scored a team-high 22 points and added five rebounds.

Reserves Forrest Robinson and Edwind McGhee combined for 17 points with Robinson swishing his first three attempts from beyond the three-point arc. McGhee had his moment scoring eight consecutive points in lifting DePaul (10-12, 2-7 in the BIG EAST) to a 62-62 tie with seven minutes left in the game.

“In practice, everyone is on me to stay positive and keep my head up,” said Curington, who averaged 17.3 points for high school basketball dynasty Oak Hill Academy last season. “Brandon (Young) and Nugget (Durrell McDonald) were doing a good job of getting me the ball.

“We were desperate for a win, and I was ready to do anything to get a win.”

Down by seven late in the game, Young hit a pair of free throws and Tommy Hamilton IV scored down low. Providence (16-6, 6-3) went back ahead by six when a Robinson steal and Young layup cut the deficit to 72-68 with 33.3 seconds to go.

Two Bryce Cotton free throws and his breakaway dunk gave the Friars a 76-68 lead. Hamilton hit a pair of free throws with 10.8 seconds on the clock.

Hamilton finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals while Young had 12 points, nine assists and two steals. Cotton had a game-high 28 points along with six assists.

“We got in a hole and kept battling to get back in it,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell as his team bounced back from a 16-point deficit in the first half and trailed by 11 in the second half. “I’m pleased with the effort and production that R.J., Forrest and Ed are giving us.

“But we didn’t do a good enough job against Cotton and didn’t follow our defensive game plan.”

Baskets by Hamilton and Curington at the outset of the second half brought the Blue Demons within 42-41. Cotton scored five unanswered points as the Friars went ahead by six. Robinson responded with his third 3-pointer without a miss and Young hit a free throw.

Providence came back with seven unanswered points in moving ahead by nine. The deficit was 11 when Young scored on a layup and Curington connected on a 3-point shot.

A Hamilton foul shot and those eight-straight from McGhee had the Allstate Arena crowd on its feet. McGhee’s three culminated the 9-0 run and tied the game at 62-62. LaDontae Henton’s layup and a Cotton 3-pointer made it 67-62.

“When we got down by 16, we just stayed together and kept on fighting,” Young said. “We trusted in each other, stayed positive and picked it up on the defensive end. We had confidence in each other the whole game.

“We were playing with confidence and knew we had a shot to win when the game was tied 62-62. I knew we could count on people like R.J., Forrest and Ed to pick up the team.

“People think I always want to score, but I really like passing the ball. I want to see everyone else do well. Today, my shot wasn’t falling so I started to find other people.”

Right from the opening tip, you knew it was going to be an uphill climb. DePaul was down three starters and a key reserve while Providence had won five of its last six games.

The Friars’ starting five came into the game averaging a combined 65.7 points per game. DePaul’s starters were averaging a combined 30.8 points.

Providence made its move early, grabbing a 23-10 lead on the strength of a 15-5 run. The Friars increased their advantage to 30-14 when DePaul came to life.

Curington scored seven points to ignite a 10-2 outburst. Hamilton scored on a three-point play and Curington followed with a corner 3-pointer to bring the Blue Demons within 32-24.

Providence pulled back out to an 11-point lead when the new guys struck again. Freshman guard Curington buried another 3-pointer and junior-college transfer Robinson drilled a corner three off a nice feed from Young.

That sent DePaul into halftime trailing just 42-37 after closing out the first half with an 8-2 burst. Curington was following up his career-high of 15 points at Seton Hall last week with 14 points in the first half alone. Curington and Robinson were providing the Blue Demons with legitimate threats from beyond the arc.

“R.J. is giving our team a lift offensively,” Purnell said. “It was impressive that he not only looked for his outside shot but was also driving to the basket. That made it tougher to cover him.

“Forrest also gave us a big lift as a pick-and-pop four (power forward). He can stretch out a defense by hitting the three and that opens it up for the guards to drive.”

It’s a quick turnaround for the Blue Demons as they take on Georgetown in an 8 p.m. game Monday at Allstate Arena that will be televised by FOX Sports 1.

Notes: Today’s meeting was the 31st all-time between the two programs... Providence holds a 23-8 advantage in the all-time series... DePaul had won 2-of-3 in the series... the road team has won in the last five games between the two teams... Curington’s 22 points were a career-high, as were his three-pointers (3), three-point attempts (8), free throws (5) and free throws attempted (6)... Robinson’s nine points and three triples were a career-high... McGhee’s two three-pointers were his first of the season... Young’s assist total (9) was a season-high... the Blue Demons have knocked down a three-pointer in 633 straight games going back to Feb. 16, 1993.