Feisty Clahar Scores 19 Points in 81-66 Loss to No. 20/22 Pittsburgh
March 9, 2013
ROSEMONT - In his final game at Allstate Arena, Worrel Clahar wanted to leave DePaul Blue Demon fans with a lasting impression.
The gutsy, fearless 5-foot, 11-inch dynamo tied a career-high with 19 points on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to avert an 81-66 BIG EAST Conference loss to No. 20/22 Pittsburgh in DePaul's regular-season finale.
Clahar made 7-of-11 shots and sparked the Blue Demon attack along with Brandon Young's game-high 22 points. Cleveland Melvin (12 points) and Jamee Crockett (10 points) gave DePaul (11-20, 2-16 in the BIG EAST) four scorers in double figures.
But Pittsburgh (24-7, 12-6) shot nearly 72 percent from the field including 9-of-14 from three-point range. Pitt's 71.7 percent from the field set a record at Allstate Arena, for a BIG EAST regular-season game and also a school record.
"I came in with the attitude of playing as hard as I can," Clahar said. "I wanted to leave a memory for our fans---not just with this game but every game since I've been here. This is how I want to be remembered at DePaul."
His performance certainly made an impression on the opposing coach.
"Clahar is a tough kid and he showed up for Senior Day in a big way," said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon. "His penetration in the lane hurt us.
"You've got to admire his tenacity. He makes up for his lack of size with tremendous determination."
If only the Blue Demons could have sent off their seniors with a victory.
"I was disappointed we were not able to get a win for our seniors, Worrel Clahar and Stuart Pirri, on Senior Day," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "Defensively as a team, we were not very good. Pittsburgh does have outstanding shooters, but we didn't do enough to make them cool off.
"Worrel was tenacious and tough and played one of his best games. He played real hard for us, and I was hoping some of our other players would follow his lead---but they didn't."
Young and Crockett each hit a pair of foul shots and DePaul was within 65-54 with 7 minutes, 41 seconds left in the game.
Battling all the big guys inside, Clahar scored five points in a row for DePaul to keep the home team within striking distance. His foul shot made it 70-61, but Tray Woodall (18 points) scored back-to-back baskets for a 13-point Pitt lead with less than four minutes on the clock.
DePaul came within seven twice early in the second half, but each time the Panthers restored a double-digit lead. J.J. Moore hit three consecutive shots from beyond the arc in the middle of the half. Moore led Pitt with 21 points and was 5-for-5 from long distance.
Young's pair of technical foul shots left the Blue Demons trailing 58-47 with less than 12 minutes to go in the game. Durand Johnson's three-point play with just under 10 minutes put Pitt in front 65-50.
After the Panthers scored the first nine points of the game, DePaul mounted a 13-2 run as Charles McKinney and Crockett each swished a three-pointer. Pittsburgh had pulled out to a five-point lead in the middle of the first half when Clahar hit a three to bring the Blue Demons within 20-18.
A 9-2 spurt gave the visiting team a 37-27 lead with less than seven minutes to go in the first half. The Panthers were having success penetrating into the lane and dishing off for dunks and layups.
Trailing by 12, Young's three-pointer, a Melvin free throw and another tough basket inside from Clahar cut the deficit to 41-35. But Pitt scored the final four points of the half and went into the break with a 46-35 advantage.
DePaul will open the BIG EAST Championship tournament at 8 p.m. on Tuesday against Rutgers (14-15, 5-13) at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Demons defeated Rutgers 75-69 on Feb. 16 at Allstate Arena when Clahar scored 19 points.
"I told the team that this is our NCAA tournament," Purnell said. "If we win, we advance. If not, we go home. "Rutgers is clearly a better team than when we played them. I think we match up well.
"We couldn't get our seniors a win today, but there's still a chance to get them a BIG EAST tournament win or wins."