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updated: 2/11/2012 2:43 PM

Notre Dame holds on to beat DePaul 84-76

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Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jack Cooley hit the deck for a loose ball and fell into the padding below the basket, but the bruises couldn't slow down the 6-foot-9 Irish forward Saturday against DePaul.

Cooley finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Jerian Grant had 22 points as Notre Dame managed to fend off the Blue Demons 84-76 for its sixth straight win.

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DePaul led 68-65 with 7:27 remaining, but Notre Dame (17-8, 9-3 Big East) finally overcame the fast-paced play of the Blue Demons with a 10-0 run which was helped by a technical foul on DePaul's bench. Still, the Demons got as close as three points twice down the stretch before the Irish wrapped it up.

"We showed some poise because every time we looked like we had some breathing room, they're right back on you," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "You can't control tempo. Eventually you've got to try and outscore. We did enough to get out of there."

DePaul (11-13, 2-10) forced Notre Dame into a game that was more of a race than the slow-paced style that Brey prefers to employ. It took his team awhile to adjust after turning the ball over nine times in the first half.

Notre Dame made 11 of its first 16 shots in the second half to take a 61-54 lead with 11:14 left. The Blue Demons responded with offensive efficiency of their own, using just four possessions to take a 63-61 lead. But it wasn't until after the technical foul that Notre Dame firmly took control.

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell took the blame for the technical foul, complaining about a foul called on the Demons' Donnavan Kirk.

"I had been giving it to (the referee) pretty good, so I guess I got on him a little harder than he wanted," Purnell said. "I just thought it was a touch foul in the middle of the floor."

Grant made the technical foul free throws as part of his 15-point second-half performance.

"The second half I was reading the defense better," Grant said. "I was picking my spots, seeing open guys and seeing the holes."

DePaul led for much of the first half and it was 34-34 at the break. Grant admitted it took a while for Notre Dame to get used to the quicker tempo.

"We had been burning three games in a row so when they're speeding us up it takes some adjusting to do," he said.

Brey said he realized trying to slow down DePaul wouldn't be enough to beat the upset-minded Blue Demons.

"We burned it a little bit at times just to rest, but at some point in the second half we were going to have to score to escape," Brey said. "Our guys were confident. Eric (Atkins) and Jerian were going off the dribble and making plays so you kind of let them go and do that."

Atkins finished with 14 points and six assists for the Irish, who outrebounded DePaul 33-21 and shot 60 percent from the field. Cooley was 10 for 12

Jeremiah Kelly led the Blue Demons with 17 points and Cleveland Melvin had 16 points and six rebounds.

DePaul's Krys Faber and Brandon Young, starters in every previous game this season, were held out of the starting lineup. Young finished with 13 points in 29 minutes. Jamee Crockett, who was DePaul's high scorer in the first half with eight points, also scored 13.

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