Crockett, Kelly Connect On Senior Night
March 3, 2012
ROSEMONT, Ill. – A microcosm of DePaul’s best game of the season took place in the latter stages of the second half Saturday when senior Jeremiah Kelly apparently overthrew a lob pass to freshman Jamee Crockett.
“I thought it was too high,” Kelly said after DePaul’s resounding 86-58 BIG EAST Conference victory over Seton Hall. “But he is blessed with an ability we don’t all have. He went up, got it and made a highlight reel out of it.”
Crockett’s monster two-hand slam after catching the pass above the box in the corner of the backboard brought down the house at Allstate Arena and put the exclamation point on DePaul’s most dominant performance of the season.
In some ways, it was also a symbolic passing of the torch from a senior who has battled through four demanding and difficult years to a freshman who is ready to take flight with a young Blue Demon team.
“It was a tough four years,” said Kelly, who recorded the first double-double of his career on Senior Night with 15 points and 10 assists. “But I have no regrets and would do it all over again.
“I learned so much as a man. Coach Oliver Purnell is doing a great job of recruiting, and next year this team is going to be real scary.”
This team put together a complete game for the first time this season in racking up its largest margin of victory in 2011-12. Crockett led the way with 21 points that included 5-of-7 from three-point range and 7-of-10 overall.
“We wanted to win it for our seniors (Kelly and Krys Faber) on Senior Night,” Crockett said. “This meant a lot to us.
“I told Jeremiah before the game I needed one more lob pass from him since this is the last time I’ll play with him on this floor.
“I’ve been following Jeremiah’s career since I was a freshman in high school. He is the ultimate leader and gives everything he has for the team.”
Two runs defined this game.
After virtually matching Seton Hall basket for basket in the early going, DePaul closed out the first half with a 20-6 burst. Kelly’s two free throws sent the Blue Demons into their halftime locker room with a 40-27 lead.
In the second half, DePaul (12-18, 3-15 in the BIG EAST) took off on a 15-4 run that ended with Worrell Clahar’s free throw for a 61-36 lead.
Cleveland Melvin contributed 14 points and nine rebounds on a night when the Blue Demons outrebounded their opponent 33-24. Brandon Young finished with 10 points, four assists and three steals. DePaul shared the rock to the tune of 23 assists while Seton Hall (19-11, 8-10) had only seven.
“Clearly this was our best game of the season,” Purnell said. “This was our ‘A’ game, something we’ve been searching for in the BIG EAST season. You couldn’t have scripted it better for Senior Night.
“We guarded the ball screens well and rebounded the ball. Our team did a good job adjusting to their zone defense and handled pressure really well. We wanted to reward our fans who have been so loyal all season long and honor our seniors.
“Those were good purposes to rally around, and this gives us momentum going into the BIG EAST Tournament.”
The Blue Demons will face Connecticut in Tuesday’s first-round game at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“I’m overjoyed our teammates went out and played such a great game to give us this going-away present,” Faber said. “We all played for a bigger purpose, and this went beyond the individual.”
It was perfect timing for DePaul to snap a nine-game losing streak on Senior Night.
“Jeremiah was aggressive offensively and made some terrific passes to Jamee,” Purnell said. “Jamee continues to impress us with his ability.
“When I saw how high that lob pass was, I said no way he’s going to get that. That was one of the best plays I have ever seen.”