Free Throws Secure 69-64 DePaul Win Over NIU

Free Throws Secure 69-64 DePaul Win Over NIU

It took clutch free throw shooting and some key defensive stops down the stretch for the Blue Demons to turn away the visitors from DeKalb on Sunday evening as DePaul walked away from Allstate Arena with a 69-64 win.

DePaul (8-3) made nine consecutive free throws in the game's final three minutes to help secure the win over Northern Illinois (2-7). Junior guard Brandon Young made four of those free throws.

"That's just preparing ourselves the right way, in practice we're always shooting a lot of free throws and getting a lot of reps in because we can come down to a situation like that at any moment," said Young, who was awarded the Jay Goedert MVP Award for the second straight year. "When the time comes, we just have to step up and knock them down."

The Blue Demons shot 84% from the charity stripe in this contest.

"We made our free throws and every one of them was critical," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell.

NIU Sophomore Abdel Nader led all scorers with a season-high 20 points, but was held scoreless down the stretch by DePaul's lockdown defender Charles McKinney.

"I thought he really slowed him down late," said Purnell. "We said go get him. Charles is developing into a really good defender and certainly our defensive stopper."

"Nader was on my high school team when we were younger (at Maine East)," said McKinney. "So I kind of knew his game a little bit and it was really just a lot of confidence with me personally knowing him. I knew he was going to drive."

Three Blue Demons finished in double-figures. Young led the way for the Blue Demons with 15 points, five assists, and two steals.

"It's a great feeling," Young said of winning the game's MVP award. "I definitely go to win it while my mother was here. So, that makes it even better, it put a smile on her face. I just have to give thanks to my teammates. They help me stay in it and stay positive. We were communicating out there. It was a good team win today."

Sophomore Jamee Crockett added 14 points and junior Cleveland Melvin added 12 points.

Senior guard Worrel Clahar came off the bench to contribute eight points, six rebounds, and three assists.

The Blue Demons have six days off before they return to Allstate Arena on Saturday to face Maryland Baltimore County.

Box Score

Notes:

DePaul improves to 8-3 overall on the season. Northern Illinois is now 2-7 overall. The Blue Demons are now on a six-game winning streak for the first time since Dec. 13-29, 2006. • Today's game was the 32nd meeting between the two schools. DePaul now holds the series lead, 25-6 and has won three straight in the series. • Head coach Oliver Purnell improved to 3-0 in his career versus Milwaukee. • DePaul improved to 78-34 all-time against the current MAC lineup. DePaul Team Notes: • The Blue Demons went 8:45 without a field goal during the latter portion of the first half (9:01-0:16) before getting two in the last 16 seconds of play to take a 33-31 lead into the locker room.

• The Blue Demons trailed 31-27 with 2:01 to play and held NIU without a basket until the break and scored six over the final 58 seconds (including two Brandon Young baskets in the final 16 seconds) of the half to pull in front.

• Trailing 56-54 with 4:20 to play, DePaul went on a 9-2 run covering 3:05 to build a five point lead with less than a minute to play.

• DePaul extended its streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 590... Durrell McDonald nailed the first Blue Demon trey at the 15:09 mark of the second half... the last time the Blue Demons failed to hit from beyond the arc was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena.

• The Blue Demons held their fourth straight opponent under 45 percent shooting, limiting the Huskies to a .400 field goal percentage.

DePaul Individual Notes:

• Junior guard Brandon Young finished in double figures for the 15th consecutive game... he went 5-of-10 from field-goal range, 4-of-4 at the line, and finished with four boards and five assists to earn the earning the Jay Goedert Memorial Award for most outstanding player of the game.

• Junior forward Cleveland Melvin reached double figures--with 12 points--for the 25th consecutive game.

• Sophomore forward Jamee Crockett finished with a season-high 14 points, reaching double figures for the second time this season. Crockett previously scored 13 points on Dec. 9 against Milwaukee.

• Sophomore center Derrell Robertson made his second career start and first of the season.

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