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DePaul's Late Rush Not Quite Enough
Donnavan Kirk's eight blocked shots tied the second-highest, single-game total in DePaul history.


Donnavan Kirk's eight blocked shots tied the second-highest, single-game total in DePaul history.

Feb. 25, 2012

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ROSEMONT, Ill. - Once again DePaul battled right to the finish---only to come up on the short end.

A late burst triggered by Brandon Young and Jamee Crockett wasn't quite enough in the Blue Demons' 73-71 BIG EAST Conference loss to Providence Saturday at Allstate Arena.

Buoyed by a 19-4 run in the middle of the second half, Providence (14-15, 3-13 in the BIG EAST) moved in front 71-64 on a LaDontae Henton jumper with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left in the game.

That's when Young and Crockett went to work.

Young hit a pair of free throws with 2:12 on the clock and followed up with a fast-break dash that turned into a three-point play at the 1:33 mark.

DePaul's defense locked it down on the other end and forced a shot-clock violation on the Friars with 1:01 left. Crockett was fouled with 33.5 seconds to go and converted both free throws to the tie the game at 71-71.

"Jamee went to the line and made two huge free throws in a pressure situation," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "We had one stop to make that would send the game into overtime, and it didn't happen."

Providence playmaker Vincent Council (14 points, 11 assists) set up the winning shot, driving around a high screen and then dishing to Henton for an open 17-footer. Henton, a 6-foot, 6-inch freshman, had game highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds.

With just under two seconds left, Young heaved a court-length pass to Cleveland Melvin, who got crossed up with Crockett going for the ball. His subsequent shot attempt was deflected by Henton.

"This was a tough one to take," Purnell said. "You play well enough to win, but it's not happening.

"You've got to go through these experiences as you learn to win. I just wish there were less of them. You're going to struggle as a young team until you gain experience, get over the hump and learn how to win."

In his first game back after missing four games with an injury, Moses Morgan led the Blue Demons with 13 points. Young had 11 points and six assists, Crockett contributed 11 points and Melvin finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

In his best all-around collegiate outing, Donnavan Kirk had 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots to go with four points. That tied the second-highest, single-game total for blocked shots in DePaul history and was the most since Steven Hunter had eight against Houston on Feb. 7, 2001.

"It was about timing and knowing when to come over and help out," said the 6-9 Kirk. "I didn't want to jump out too early. I watched film on those guys and learned when to make my move."

After DePaul had taken a 45-41 lead on a Melvin basket early in the second half, Providence went on that 19-4 run as Henton had eight points in that spurt. It gave the Friars a 60-49 lead, the biggest by either team.

A pair of Morgan three-point shots and a Young free throw brought DePaul (11-17, 2-14) within 60-56 with more than eight minutes to go in the game.

"We got away from our defensive mindset and took some possessions off," Kirk said. "We knew that Henton was a lefty. We have to make sure we know how to stop a player's strength."

Young made up his mind it was time to take control at the end.

"I was just trying to win the game," Young said. "But we can't wait until the last minute. We've all got to play like that from the opening tip."

After outrebounding the Friars by four in the first half, DePaul was beaten 23-12 on the boards in the final 20 minutes.

"That was as big a key to us losing as anything," Purnell said. "There were rebounds we needed to have, and not all of that is on Donnavan. The guards and everyone else needs to help with gang rebounding.

"There were some Donnavan should have grabbed. He needs to come up with those kinds of rebounds if he's going to be a big-time player."

In a fast-paced first half with both teams favoring smaller, quicker lineups, the lead went back and forth. Kirk continued to look stronger in his recovery from a back problem. Young swished a three-pointer and Morgan buried a jumper just before halftime that sent the Blue Demons into their locker room with a 37-35 lead.

DePaul hits the road for its next BIG EAST game, playing at West Virginia on Tuesday.