Even the best college programs hit rough patches over the course of a game, so it would be unfair to expect DePaul to play a flawless 40 minutes of basketball.
But extended lapses of poor play has been plaguing the once proud Blue Demons for years, and the trend has continued under Oliver Purnell’s watch.
Well into his third season as DePaul’s head coach, Purnell is already repeating himself as the Big East losses continue to pile up.
“To me it’s really simple,” Purnell said after the Blue Demons dropped a 71-62 decision to St. John’s Saturday at Allstate Arena. “We didn’t play well enough long enough.”
Facing a Red Storm team that is finally starting to reestablish itself under coach Steve Lavin, who continues waging a winning battle against prostate cancer, DePaul (10-8 overall, 1-4 in the Big East) was competitive throughout the first half and trailed 35-33 at the break.
In the second half, a Charles McKinney jumper gave the Blue Demons a 39-37 lead with 16:59 to play.
At the 7:36 mark, St. John’s was on top 63-46.
“We kind of put it all together,” Purnell said of the Red Storm’s extended surge. “We didn’t rebound, we turned it over and we didn’t shoot it well. There you have it.”
DePaul has utilized a full-court press since Purnell arrived from Clemson in 2010-11, and the turnovers have helped give the Demons a needed competitive edge.
Against St John’s (11-7, 3-3), DePaul committed 18 turnovers and the Red Storm cashed in with 24 points, many on uncontested layups.
Brandon Young pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds for the Blue Demons but otherwise played a miserable game. The junior guard turned the ball over seven times and scored 6 points on 2-for-11 shooting.
Trailing by 17 late in the game, Jamee Crockett (19 points), Cleveland Melvin (16) and Moses Morgan (9) helped DePaul rally back to make it 65-62 with 2:24 to play on Morgan’s 3-pointer.
The Red Storm closed the game on a 6-0 run, handing the Blue Demons their fifth loss in six games.
“We fight pretty hard, which is something to build on,” Purnell said. “But you still have to play smarter and better during the bulk of the game in order for that fight to pay off.”
If there was an individual bright spot for DePaul, it was Crockett. After scoring just 10 total points in the last two games, losses to Cincinnati and Connecticut, the sophomore swingman from Crete-Monee High School erupted for 19 and he energized the crowd with several acrobatic dunks.
“My shot hasn’t been falling too well this year,” Crockett said. “My plan for the rest of the season was trying to get something inside and trying to be aggressive.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.