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DePaul Drops Overtime Battle with Notre Dame, 79-71
Cleveland Melvin notched his 13th career double-double with a 13-point, 10-rebound effort on Saturday


Cleveland Melvin notched his 13th career double-double with a 13-point, 10-rebound effort on Saturday

Feb. 2, 2013

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ROSEMONT, Ill. - They played with an abundance of heart and competed fiercely, but in the end, the DePaul Blue Demons couldn't quite pull off a BIG EAST Conference upset on Saturday.

In their second consecutive overtime game, the Blue Demons were topped by Notre Dame 79-71 at Allstate Arena in front of a boisterous crowd of 11,354. Just three days earlier, DePaul had lost to St. John's in overtime on the road.

It was first time DePaul has played back-to-back overtime games since the 1987-88 season.

"I'm really disappointed for our guys," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "We're playing better, though that's not a consolation. It's something to build on.

"We've got to keep fighting and hitting that rock until we break it."

Eric Atkins (16 points, five assists, four steals) opened the extra period with a three-point shot, and then hit a pair of free throws for a 75-70 Notre Dame lead. Jack Cooley's dunk made it a seven-point game. Cooley had game highs with 26 points and 16 rebounds.

Brandon Young's free throw with 1:24 left in overtime was DePaul's only point of the extra session. Atkins responded with two foul shots. The Blue Demons were outscored 9-1 in overtime.

Both Young (15 points, five assists) and Donnavan Kirk (11 points, seven rebounds) took it upon themselves to provide more leadership in crunch time.

"It starts with me," Young said. "I'm the point guard and leader of this team. I have to do a better job of getting my guys focused and have them feed off my energy. We have to concentrate more out there.

"I thought we played great today and played hard for 40 minutes. But we didn't play the last five minutes like we did in the first and second half."

Kirk echoed Young's sentiment.

"Being one of the team leaders, I have to step up to the plate," Kirk said. "I need to make sure we get a stop, get the rebound and make free throws.

"The next time we get there (crunch time)---I'll make sure we step up and get the win. I know we can do it."

After Atkins put Notre Dame ahead 68-66 in regulation time, Cleveland Melvin (13 points, 10 rebounds) scored on a reverse layup with 2:06 on the clock. Melvin's hook shot gave the Blue Demons a 70-68 lead with 1:20 to go.

Jerian Grant made two free throws with 1:09 left to make it 70-70. Young missed on a good look from the corner and Notre Dame went for the last shot. Grant missed a three-pointer from the corner and Charles McKinney (10 points) grabbed the rebound for overtime.

DePaul had five guys in double figures led by Young's 15 points. In addition to Melvin, Kirk and McKinney (10), Jamee Crockett finished with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.

McKinney's three-pointer from deep in the corner propelled the Blue Demons to a 61-59 lead with less than eight minutes in the game. Cooley's pair of foul shots tied it at 62-62.

A foul shot by Young and one by Kirk followed by a Kirk basket in the paint put DePaul ahead 66-64 with more than four minutes to go. Cooley tied it with two more free throws.

Down 12 early in the second half, DePaul (10-11, 1-7 in the BIG EAST) scored six-straight points with Melvin's two-hand dunk bringing the home team within 46-40.

The Blue Demons shot their first free throws of the game with 14:28 to go in the second half when Young dropped a pair. That ignited a 9-2 DePaul run which brought the Allstate Arena crowd to its feet and sliced the Notre Dame lead to 52-51.

Atkins and Crockett exchanged threes. Worrell Clahar's two free throws gave DePaul a 56-55 lead with 9:25 left.

Notre Dame improved to 18-4, 6-3 in the BIG EAST.

It was intense right from the opening tip with a big-game atmosphere permeating Allstate Arena. Crockett hit his first three shots, including two from beyond the arc, in launching the Blue Demons to an early six-point head-start.

The Fighting Irish withstood the early burst and came back to score 10 unanswered points for a 25-16 advantage with seven minutes to go in the first half.

The Blue Demons did not unleash its patented full-court pressure during the first 20 minutes. That same strategy nearly worked in last Wednesday's overtime loss at St. John's.

Despite three-pointers from Young and McKinney down the stretch, DePaul went into its halftime locker room trailing 39-30.

"In the first half we got stagnant against their zone," Purnell said. "When you don't get to the free throw line, that's a sign of not being aggressive.

"We fixed that in the second half and got good movement against the zone. Our guys played their tails off in the half-court, man-to-man.

"But we had some turnovers at the end and that seemed to set the tone for overtime. We got the jump ball, but turned it over."

Kirk enjoyed the partisan crowd led by a large and rowdy Blue Crew student section.

"It was awesome to see that crowd out there," Kirk said. "It was so nice to see so many of my classmates. Playing in front of your peers, you really want to do well. They were our sixth man.

"It was amazing. I hope they continue to come out and keep pushing us forward."

DePaul returns to Allstate Arena on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff against BIG EAST opponent Villanova.

Postgame Notes:
- The game was the 103rd meeting between DePaul and Notre Dame... Notre Dame leads the series by a 59-44 advantage... the Irish have won eight straight games against the Blue Demons.
- With Jamee Crockett's three-pointer to open the scoring for the Blue Demons, DePaul extended its streak to 600 consecutive games with a three-pointer.
- The Blue Demons played an overtime game for the second straight game... it is the first time with back-to-back overtime games since the 1987-88 season... the Blue Demons lost to Pepperdine, 84-76, on Nov. 28 and defeated Niagara, 88-87, in overtime.
-Cleveland Melvin finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season and 13th of his career.
- DePaul is 36-37 all-time in overtime games.
- Five players finished in double-figures for the first time since Oliver Purnell's first game at DePaul against Chicago State on Nov. 14, 2010.