You always want your star players to lead the way, and Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young certainly pointed themselves in the right direction for DePaul Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.
But against a sturdy Big East opponent like Cincinnati, Melvin and Young needed as much help as they could possibly get.
In a 75-70 loss to the visiting Bearcats, it was too much all Melvin and Young all the time, especially in the second half. And it wasn't enough.
"We didn't get enough production from enough guys," coach Oliver Purnell said after DePaul (10-7 overall, 1-3 in the Big East) lost for the fourth time in five games. "We need seven or eight guys to play well in games like this in order to give us a great chance to win."
Melvin showed up and scored a career-high 32 points, and the junior forward helped make the final outcome close after the Blue Demons trailed 70-59 with 1:02 left in the game.
Young scored 18 points to take some off the load off Melvin, but it was slim pickings after that.
"It makes it tough when only a couple of guys are scoring," Melvin said. "But at the same time me and Brandon are leaders and the team needs us. If we've got to score, that's what we have to do."
The Baltimore natives have been carrying DePaul's offense since they arrived on campus three years ago, but Melvin and Young wound up scoring 29 of the Demons' 32 points in the second half.
The duo accounted for the first 25 points before Charles McKinney hit a 3-pointer to trim Cincinnati's lead to 71-66.
Overall, McKinney finished with 10 points, but Jamee Crockett (2 points on 1-for-7 shooting), Moses Morgan (2 points on 1-for-5 shooting), Donovan Kirk (4 points), Derrell Robertson (2), Worrel Clahar (0) and Durrell McDonald (0) were mostly invisible.
"We struggled to score," Purnell said. "We were 2-14 shooting 3s and we didn't go to the (free-throw) line a whole lot. If you don't shoot well and you don't get six or seven of your guys playing well, it's tough."
The Blue Demons jumped all over the Bearcats at the start of the game and held a 13-2 lead before Cincinnati (15-3, 3-2) quickly got back in the game behind senior guard Cashmere Wright, who scored 20 points before being helped off the floor early in the second half with a right knee injury.
"We did start off with a lot of momentum," Melvin said. "We wanted to keep it going, but we let them back in the game."
Wright and Sean Kilpatrick (18 points) hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half, putting DePaul in a big hole. The Blue Demons almost dug themselves all the way out but ran out of time.
"You want to play hard the whole 40 minutes," Melvin said. "We started off really good and we had a lot of energy at the end. We wanted to come back and win the game but just couldn't do it."