Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin, DePaul's two stars, were visibly tired Saturday. They had given every ounce of themselves on the basketball court -- defensively, offensively and on the boards -- only to lose again.
The Blue Demons built a 17-point lead in the first half Saturday, still led by 10 at the break and had runs of 16-0 and 16-2 against No. 19 Louisville.
Still not enough for that signature victory. Louisville got two key baskets from Russ Smith in overtime and 25 points from Kyle Kuric to rally past the Blue Demons 90-82.
"The first half we came out strong, we came out big, we got a big lead on them. Then in the second half we kind of let go a little bit and kind of let them back in the game," said Young, who finished with 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
"We weren't doing the little things on defense like rebounding and blocking out and talking on D. You can see that can hurt us at the end of the game."
DePaul (11-15, 2-12) has now lost 36 straight games to ranked opponents. The Blue Demons have dropped 11 of their last 12 this season but this was a game they appeared ready to win, building a big first-half lead.
Melvin chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds for DePaul.
"The bad is that we didn't get the job done and we took a few defensive possessions off in the meat of the game, including blockout situations on long rebounds that cost us," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said.
"The good, of course, is that we played at a much higher level. ... We put ourselves in position to win and played our style of basketball. We were aggressive. We take that style of play and level of play into the next game and down the stretch and we are going to win some games. "
He'd also like to see something else:
"I just feel like we're not getting. ... Our guys deserve respect from the officials, too," he said. "They really do."
Louisville worked its way back after DePaul's raging start.
"Everybody just stayed positive. We're going to make our run just as well as they did," said Cardinals guard Chris Smith, who scored 20.
"Then we just started hitting shots and started getting the flow going and it was just whole totally different game."
Kuric had 17 of his points in the second half and was 9 for 17 from the field. He made five 3-pointers.
"Kyle has to give that type of effort because he didn't give it in the first half, that effort. In the second half he was all over the place and gave great effort," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said after using a smaller lineup in the second half to get his team rolling.
After losing their big lead, the Blue Demons tied the game at 77 when Charles McKinney hit a basket with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime. But they were outscored 13-5 in the extra period.
"This team is the best losing character team probably in the Big East," said Pitino, complimenting the effort of the Blue Demons. "They don't come away with much at times, but that's the building process you've got to go through."
With the game tied at 79 in overtime, Russ Smith hit back-to-back baskets from in-close. Peyton Siva added two free throws and Chris Smith had a layup and three free throws to seal the win. The Cardinals outscored the Blue Demons 13-5 in overtime.
DePaul shot 54.8 percent in the first half, swarmed the court with scrappy defense, had separate runs of 16-0 and 16-2 and took a 42-32 halftime lead.
The teams warmed up in the dark for several minutes when the lights at the Allstate Arena, dimmed for a pre-game video, didn't come back on quickly enough.
After Louisville got the first four points, the Blue Demons reeled off 16 straight as Jeremiah Kelly capped the frantic outburst with a 3-pointer, making it 16-4.