DePaul Comes Close Against No. 19/18 Louisville
Feb. 18, 2012
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Even after a tough loss, some heroes emerged for the home team.
Brandon Young, Donnavan Kirk and Charles McKinney come to mind, and each had his share of dramatic moments during DePaul’s 90-82 overtime loss to No. 19/18 Louisville Saturday before a rowdy Allstate Arena crowd of 13,674.
Young played some inspired BIG EAST Conference basketball and led the Blue Demons with 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. He made 10 of his 13 shots and collaborated on the biggest play of the game for DePaul.
“The play we wanted to run was breaking down,” Young said as his team trailed by two in the waning seconds of regulation time. “Donnavan came over and set a screen for me. Three guys came rushing towards me and I saw Charles cutting back-door.”
McKinney took it from there.
“We knew they were going to trap the ball,” McKinney said. “I made my cut and fortunately Brandon saw me.”
McKinney’s athletic basket at the hoop with 2.2 seconds left forced the extra period.
That shot became totally relevant after the 6-foot, 9-inch Kirk buried a three-pointer with :36 on the clock to bring the Blue Demons within 76-75. A Chris Smith free throw put Louisville up by two.
“I knew he was going to make it,” McKinney said about Kirk’s shot. “He knocks it down from there in practice all the time.”
Louisville (21-6, 9-5 in the BIG EAST) took advantage of two Blue Demon turnovers and outscored DePaul 13-5 in overtime. Kyle Kuric paced the Cardinals with 25 points and Chris Smith added 20.
“We took a few possessions off in the meat of the game, including some block-out situations,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. “No matter how well you’ve played to that point, you can’t take possessions off.
“I thought we played at a much higher level than what we’ve been playing and put ourselves in a position to win. We played out style, we were aggressive, and if we take that level of play onto the next game and down the stretch, we’re going to win some games.”
DePaul (11-15, 2-12) came out on fire, going on a 16-0 run early in the first half and revving up the decibel level at Allstate Arena. Jeremiah Kelly hit a pair of three-pointers in that spurt.
After Louisville closed to 20-16, the Blue Demons took off on a 14-1 burst as Young scored eight points. That provided a 34-17 lead with more than five minutes to go in the first half.
The Cardinals came within eight when Worrell Clahar’s two free throws gave the home team a 42-32 lead at halftime---its largest halftime lead in a BIG EAST game this season.
“I came out with a chip on my shoulder and had something to prove,” Young said. “I’ve been hearing people talking, saying I wasn’t the player I used to be. People were starting to doubt me---and I don’t like that.”
After leading by 12 at the outset of the second half, DePaul saw its lead cut to four points until Young hit a pair of free throws with 15:33 left. Russ Smith hit a pair of three-pointers to give the Cardinals a 50-48 lead at the 13:27 mark. It was their first lead since the opening minute of the game.
Back and forth it went. Melvin gave DePaul a 64-61 lead, but back came Kuric with consecutive three-pointers for a 67-64 Louisville lead. Young’s acrobatic bank shot brought DePaul within one. Melvin’s driving layup put the Blue Demons ahead 68-67 with 3:42 left.
“This team is the best losing character team probably in the BIG EAST,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said about his adversary. “They play their butts off every night and they don’t come away with much at times---but that’s the building process you’ve got to go through.
“They play everybody tough.”
The Blue Demons travel to St. John’s for an 8 p.m. game on Monday.