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Blue Demons Unable to Sustain Fast Start
Cleveland Melvin scores two of his team-leading 22 points in Monday's night's 89-76 loss to No. 18/19 Marquette.


Cleveland Melvin scores two of his team-leading 22 points in Monday's night's 89-76 loss to No. 18/19 Marquette.

Feb. 6, 2012

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – If only DePaul could have come up with some sustainability Monday night at Allstate Arena.

After a fast start, the Blue Demons tailed off in the second half of an 89-76 BIG EAST Conference loss to No. 18/19 Marquette.

Led by the aggressive, athletic Charles McKinney, DePaul came out attacking. The Blue Demons also hit 62.5 percent of their three-point attempts in the first half, outshooting the Golden Eagles 5-0 from beyond the arc.

Three baskets by Melvin and two by McKinney ignited a 13-2 run in providing the home team with a 37-25 lead. Melvin scored twice more to put DePaul ahead 41-29 with 4:27 left in the first half.

That’s when the malaise set in. Marquette (20-5, 9-3 in the BIG EAST) finished off the first half outscoring the Blue Demons 11-2 and then opened the second half with a 16-3 run.

It’s pretty difficult to overcome a 22-point turnaround.

“The last few minutes of the first half, we turned the ball over,” said point guard Worrell Clahar who scored a career-high 16 points. “I take full responsibility for that. I need to take better care of the ball against the press.”

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said the Blue Demons have problems sustaining a high level of play because of a shortage of healthy bodies and subpar backcourt performance.

“Part of it is the roster and that kind of thing, but the other part is mental toughness,” Purnell said. “We’ve got to get better play out of our point guard position. Brandon (Young) didn’t play well. Worrell needs to be more consistent. He is struggling against pressure.

“We need Worrell to attack the press and not lob passes over it. When he drives through it, now we’re in attack mode.”

Marquette coach Buzz Williams made it a priority to stop Young, who scored two points.

“Brandon is a good player, and in a lot of ways, he is the ignition to what they do,” Williams said. “He is tough with the ball in his hands and makes plays for other people---particularly Cleveland Melvin.

“I told the guys to shrink the court when No. 20 has the ball in his hands. They had to know where the shooters are and that No. 21 (Jamee Crockett) is playing at an unbelievable clip.”

Melvin led DePaul (11-12, 2-9) with 22 points while Crockett added 17 points. Clahar had those 16 points and McKinney had 10. Darius Johnson-Odom had a game-high 23 points for the Golden Eagles while Jamil Wilson had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jae Crowder contributed 14 points and 11 boards.

There was a frightening moment in the first half when Moses Morgan soared into the air attempting to block a Johnson-Odom shot. Morgan got tangled in midair, and headed towards the floor headfirst.

He was able to get one of his arms down to cushion the fall, but still hit his head on the court. The sophomore forward was able to walk off the court and was taken to the hospital.

“I feel bad for Moses,” Purnell said. “He was coming back from something else and then tonight he falls on his head and has a concussion.”

Melvin said the Blue Demons were apprehensive watching Morgan lying on the court.

“It was pretty emotional,” Melvin said. “We tried to pick up our intensity for Moses, but we didn’t have any energy at the end of the first half.

“In the second half, we got too excited and they pressed us a lot. We turned the ball over and weren’t rebounding. It’s frustrating. We had a good lead in the first half, but we made some bad mistakes and lost our focus in the second half.”

Johnson-Odom began the difference-making surge, scoring seven points to spark the 11-2 burst as DePaul went into the halftime locker room with a 43-40 lead.

The Blue Demons look to get back into the win column with an 11 a.m. game Saturday at Notre Dame.