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Clutch Free Throw Shooting Sends DePaul Past Northern Illinois
Young earned the Jay Goedert Memorial Award for most outstanding player of the game.

Young earned the Jay Goedert Memorial Award for most outstanding player of the game.

Dec. 16, 2012

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – Coach Oliver Purnell makes his DePaul players run extra laps in practice whenever they mess up at the free throw line.

All that running paid off on Sunday as the Blue Demons hit 10 free throws in a row in the final three minutes of a hard-fought 69-64 victory over Northern Illinois at Allstate Arena.

The sixth win in a row for DePaul (8-3) came down to the final 15 seconds when Brandon Young and Worrell Clahar each hit a pair of clutch foul shots.

“I just go to the line and relax,” said Young who led the Blue Demons with 15 points and five assists. “We shoot a lot of free throws in practice. We know that when the time comes, you’ve got to step up and knock them down.”

Young was presented with the Jay Goedert Memorial Award as the player of the game. Goedert was an assistant coach at both DePaul and Northern Illinois who died in July, 2004 at the age of 44.

A Cleveland Melvin dunk off a nice feed from Young gave DePaul a 63-58 lead with 1 minute, eight seconds left in the game. That culminated a 9-2 run that began with a Jamee Crockett three-pointer.

Northern Illinois (2-7) wasn’t done as Akeem Springs knocked down a three-pointer. After Clahar converted a pair of free throws with 28 seconds left, Springs stuck again with another three to bring NIU within 65-64.

“I’m thrilled to get out of here with a win,” Purnell said. “Northern Illinois was a little sharper than we were tonight.

“I was pleased with the way our guys played in the last six minutes. We call that winning time. Clearly the guys did a good job in winning time making our free throws and coming up with big rebounds.

“We don’t get those rebounds the last six minutes---we lose.”

Young and Abdel Nader (20 points) exchanged clutch three-point shots with less than five minutes left in the game as Northern Illinois led 56-54. Crockett came back with a three of his own as DePaul reclaimed the lead 57-56. A pair of Melvin free throws made it 59-56 with 2:47 on the clock.

With 1:44 left, Young hit one-and-bonus foul shots. Kevin Gray’s baseline jumper cut the DePaul lead to 61-58 with 1:28 to go.

DePaul defensive specialist Charles McKinney was assigned to Nader the final four minutes and did a yeoman job making it tough on the Huskie star. Nader didn’t score down the stretch and missed a three-point attempt with five seconds to go.

“I knew him from high school,” said McKinney, who played with Nader for one season at Maine East. “I know his game. I knew he would try to drive on me.

“At the end, we got switched and Cleve (Melvin) did a good job of contesting Nader’s shot.”

Along with Young’s 15 points, Jamee Crockett scored 14 points and Melvin added 12. Clahar finished with eight points and a team-high six rebounds. DePaul went 21-for-25 (84 percent) from the free throw line.

“I thought McKinney really slowed Nader down at the end,” Purnell said. “Charles is developing into our defensive stopper, and he did a good job of making it tough on him. Worrell did a nice job of coming up with the ball and coming through for us at the line.”

Back-to-back baskets by McKinney and Young put DePaul up 37-31 early in the second half of a grind-it-out game. A Durrell McDonald three-pointer upped the lead to 40-33.

That’s when the Huskies took off on a 10-3 burst to draw even at 43-43 with 12:01 left in the second half. NIU’s zone defense was disrupting DePaul’s offensive flow. The Blue Demons and Huskies exchanged points throughout the middle of the second half, and it was tied 49-49 with 7:26 on the clock.

In a sloppy and erratic first half, both teams had problems generating a consistent offense. An early 6-0 DePaul spurt with two baskets from Crockett gave the home team a 22-16 lead.

NIU responded with its best span of the first 20 minutes, outscoring the Blue Demons 15-5 in establishing a 31-27 lead. During that stretch, DePaul went nearly nine minutes without scoring a basket.

The Blue Demons came alive just before halftime. McKinney converted a pair of free throws and Young scored twice in the final 16 seconds to give DePaul a 33-31 lead at halftime.

Sophomore Derrell Robertson, Jr. made his first start of the season, opening the game at center. He initiated the best sequence of the first half, rejecting a Huskie layup attempt off the backboard. Clahar scooped up the ball and set up Crockett for a two-hand slam.

DePaul will try to make it seven in a row this coming Saturday with a 1 p.m. game against Maryland-Baltimore County at Allstate Arena.

Team Records and Series Notes:

• DePaul improves to 8-3 overall on the season. Northern Illinois is now 2-7 overall. The Blue Demons are now on a six-game winning streak for the first time since Feb. 25-March 12, 2004.

• Today's game was the 32nd meeting between the two schools. DePaul now holds the series lead, 25-6 and has won three straight in the series.

• Head coach Oliver Purnell improved to 3-0 in his career versus Northern Illinois.

• DePaul improved to 78-34 all-time against the current MAC lineup.

DePaul Team Notes:

• The Blue Demons went 8:45 without a field goal during the latter portion of the first half (9:01-0:16) before getting two in the last 16 seconds of play to take a 33-31 lead into the locker room.

• The Blue Demons trailed 31-27 with 2:01 to play and held NIU without a basket until the break and scored six over the final 58 seconds (including two Brandon Young baskets in the final 16 seconds) of the half to pull in front.

• Trailing 56-54 with 4:20 to play, DePaul went on a 9-2 run covering 3:05 to build a five point lead with less than a minute to play.

• DePaul extended its streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 590... Durrell McDonald nailed the first Blue Demon trey at the 15:09 mark of the second half... the last time the Blue Demons failed to hit from beyond the arc was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena.

• The Blue Demons held their fourth straight opponent under 45 percent shooting, limiting the Huskies to a .400 field goal percentage.

DePaul Individual Notes:

• Junior guard Brandon Young finished in double figures for the 15th consecutive game... he went 5-of-10 from field-goal range, 4-of-4 at the line, and finished with four boards and five assists to earn the earning the Jay Goedert Memorial Award for most outstanding player of the game.

• Junior forward Cleveland Melvin reached double figures--with 12 points--for the 25th consecutive game.

• Sophomore forward Jamee Crockett finished with a season-high 14 points, reaching double figures for the second time this season. Crockett previously scored 13 points on Dec. 9 against Milwaukee.

• Sophomore center Derrell Robertson made his second career start and first of the season.