To have any chance at all to win basketball games, DePaul needs big games from scoring leaders Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, and the Blue Demons need the rest of the roster to play at maximum efficiency.
In the first half of Monday night's game against Big East rival Marquette at the Allstate Arena, DePaul rolled out to a 41-29 lead, and the crowd of 9,276 -- which included former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and a huge throng of Golden Eagles fans -- was half thrilled and half stunned.
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"We got off to a pretty good start and played really good basketball for 16, 17 minutes," Demons coach Oliver Purnell said. "Then we ran into the rough patch we've seemed to hit the last three or four games."
DePaul started fading over the final four minutes of the first half and never recovered, falling to 18th-ranked Marquette 89-76.
While building the 12-point lead over the Golden Eagles, the Blue Demons got zero points from second-leading scorer Young, who came in averaging 15.5 points.
But leading scorer Melvin had 17 points in the first half and a pair of freshmen -- Jamee Crockett and Charles McKinney -- combined for 18 to pick up the slack for Young.
"We were playing hard in the first half," Melvin said. "In the second half we got kind of too excited, we turned the ball over and we didn't rebound."
After trailing 43-40 at the break, Marquette (20-5, 9-3 Big East) outscored DePaul (11-12, 2-9) 49-33 in the second half and cruised to the win.
Melvin has carried the Demons for much of the past two seasons, but he contributed just 5 points and 3 rebounds in the final 20 minutes.
"I thought he took some bad shots in the second half," Purnell said of Melvin. "He was a little overanxious, and he didn't get to the glass. He just became one-dimensional in the second half."
At least Melvin finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds.
Young was held to 2 points and 1 rebound while playing just 16 minutes.
"I think Brandon's really good," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I think in a lot of ways he is the ignition to what they do offensively. You have to shrink the floor when he has the ball."
Young seemed to shrink away from playing competitive basketball from the opening tip on.
"Brandon Young was just frustrated," Melvin said. "He was just down on himself. I was trying to pick him up and the team was trying to pick him up, but he was just down."
And DePaul was out of another Big East game as the clock wound down. The Blue Demons have now dropped three straight conference games after holding comfortable leads in all of them.
"We're having a tough time of sustaining 40 minutes of play," Purnell said. "We came out playing really good basketball tonight, but then our offense was anemic.
"One pass, a lot of poor shots, and we didn't give ourselves a chance to get on the offensive boards. A lot of easy transition baskets for them."
DePaul suffered another blow when sophomore sharpshooter Moses Morgan crashed to the floor and hit his head after committing a foul at the 12:11 mark of the first half.
Morgan was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return to the game.