Huskies Run DePaul out of Big East Tournament

While the final score might not indicate it, DePaul (7-24) had some fight in their first round Big East Tournament loss to Connecticut (22-9). However, two decisive scoring runs-one in the first half (15-0), and a 29-10 run to end the game did in the Demons in what would be a runaway 97-71 victory for the Connecticut Huskies.

After a three pointer by Brandon Young drew the Demons to within one at 15-14 with 11 minutes to go in the first half, the Huskies would respond with a 15-0 run, essentially putting the game out of reach.

DePaul would trail 45-28 at halftime. Connecticut built up their lead up with great interior play. They scored at will in the lane and had 50 points in the paint for the game, compared to DePaul's 20. Connecticut would also own the glass, outrebounding DePaul 46-22.

DePaul would respond in the second half.

The Demons exhibited the never-say die attitude that head coach Oliver Purnell has tried to instill all season.

DePaul's pressure defense confused the Huskies in the second half and DePaul got to within seven points on a three-point play by Jimmy Drew with 8:52 to go in the game. DePaul was aided by six second half three pointers to keep them in the game.

It was then that Connecticut's All-Big East First Team member Kemba Walker would take over. Walker dissected DePaul's defense in the second half scoring 19 of his game high 26 points in the second stanza.

A Jamal Coombs McDaniel three pointer with 3:48 to go punctuated a 17-3 run to put the Huskies up 85-64, icing the game for Connecticut.

According to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, the game was won in the paint. Pounding the glass and working for good shots was a point of emphasis for Calhoun.

"After a real tough loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, in which we got out-rebounded and physically handled inside, we made a nice bounce back (effort)," Calhoun said.

"I thought that in an open-court game we're pretty good with Walker and Shabazz (Napier)," added Calhoun. "We looked so much better, and sometimes we had defensive lapses and played the scoreboard a little too much. But, beyond that, we are happy to get a win."

Today's loss marks a frustrating end to Purnell's first season at DePaul. But Purnell liked the fight in his team and will take away the positives in his first ever game in the Big East Tournament.

"I thought our guys battled, " said Purnell.

"We certainly could have played a little better, but I thought our guys battled against an excellent Uconn team," added Oliver. "I told our guys after the game that I really appreciated all the effort that they gave all year."

For Purnell, it's all about the future now.

"We're building a foundation," said Purnell. "Obviously some of our younger players Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, those guys did well for freshmen, but we all need for them to be better. Now, experience starts to be our friend as opposed to inexperience being our enemy. So, I thought we did a good job of laying the foundation, work ethic and developing a culture that will help us win in the future."

Part of that future is Young. Young led the Demons with 20 points on 7-19 shooting.

Young took the positives out of the season as well.

"Next year I'm not going to be a freshman anymore and me and JK (Jeremiah Kelly) will have to lead those guys next year, and we will have to tell them what to look for and to stick to the system."

The Demons also had two other players score in double figures as Kelly had 15 points (all on five three-pointers made) as well as 14 from freshman guard Moses Morgan.

Besides Walker, Connecticut got contributions from four other players who scored in double figures, highlighted by Alex Oriakhi's monster double-double (13 points to go with 19 rebounds).

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