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Melvin's Double-Double Not Enough Against Connecticut
Brandon Young scored 13 points against Connecticut on Saturday.

Brandon Young scored 13 points against Connecticut on Saturday.

Feb. 23, 2013

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ROSEMONT, Ill. - For one half on Saturday night, DePaul's game plan was working like a charm.

Unfortunately, the Blue Demons couldn't duplicate that effort for the full 40 minutes in an 81-69 BIG EAST Conference loss to Connecticut at Allstate Arena.

DePaul led 39-34 at the outset of the second half after Worrell Clahar scored on a tough layup inside.

That's when the Huskies took off on the first of two game-defining runs.

UConn's 11-2 burst turned that five-point deficit into a 45-41 lead. Melvin answered back with six consecutive DePaul points including a pair of two-hand dunks to put the Blue Demons back in front 47-46.

That's when Connecticut went on a 13-0 run highlighted by Shabazz Napier (28 points, seven rebounds) connecting on back-to-back threes as the Huskies moved in front 59-47. They would stretch their lead to 74-54 with more than six minutes left in the game.

"In the first half, we made it reasonably difficult for Connecticut to shoot and that needed to be the recipe for winning the game," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "There was a five-minute stretch near the end of the first half when we got four or five stops in a row, were contesting shots and getting defensive rebounds.

"We had nothing like that in the second half."

DePaul (11-16, 2-12 in the BIG EAST) went on a 12-0 run near the end of the first half in turning a 29-22 deficit into a 34-29 lead. Cleveland Melvin and Charles McKinney (nine points) hit three-pointers in the surge and scored five points apiece while Donnavan Kirk swished a long jumper.

UConn scored five in a row to even the game at 34-34. Brandon Young finished off the first half with an athletic three-point play and provided the home team with a 37-34 lead at the break.

"In the second half, we gave them too many open shots and they got it going," Purnell said as Connecticut (19-7, 9-5) shot 71 percent in the second half including 62.5 percent from three-point range.

"You've got to contest the shots they take and try to get that shooting percentage down. That makes it hard on you, and your offense can't keep up with that."

Melvin led the Blue Demons with 20 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Young finished with 13 points and six assists while Clahar added 10 points, seven assists and three steals.

"Our game plan was to slow down their guards Napier and Ryan Boatright (17 points), get some stops and be patient on offense," Melvin said. "It was definitely working in the first half.

"But we let things go in the second half, didn't stick to our game plan and their guards came up with some big plays. We were letting them drive to the basket and letting them take open shots."

It doesn't get any easier for the Blue Demons as No. 10/10 Louisville comes to Allstate Arena for an 8 p.m. game on Wednesday.

Postgame Notes:

- Saturday is the 11th meeting between the two programs... Connecticut leads the series, 10-1, with a nine-game winning streak.

- The loss was the first this season when DePaul was leading at halftime... the Blue Demons are 8-1 when leading at halftime this season.

- Cleveland Melvin moved into 17th on DePaul's all-time scoring list... he recorded his seventh double-double of the season and 14th of his career.

- Brandon Young reached double-figures for the 25th time this season.

- Worrel Clahar reached double-figures for the ninth time this season and the fourth time in the last six games.