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DePaul falls to Notre Dame in OT for sixth straight loss

Jack Cooley (shooting over Jamee Crockett) burned DePaul for 26 points 16 rebounds. The Irish outscored Demons 9-1 overtime. |

Jack Cooley (shooting over Jamee Crockett) burned DePaul for 26 points and 16 rebounds. The Irish outscored the Demons 9-1 in overtime. | AP

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Updated: March 4, 2013 6:49AM

Knowing how to win a close game can be as important as having the talent to do it, an axiom that Notre Dame exemplified Saturday in its 79-71 overtime victory against DePaul at Allstate Arena.

“Experience,’’ Irish coach Mike Brey said after getting his 139th Big East victory, tying him with former St. John’s coach Lou Carneseca for fourth all-time. “Our guards were so solid against extreme ball pressure. They calmed us. We had a poise that we’ve been here before.’’

For the Blue Demons, the feeling was the same in reverse. Their early lead disappeared, but they rebounded from a 12-point deficit in the second half, only to see a tie game at the end and a second consecutive overtime loss.

“It is a truism that if you have older guys who know how to win, they’re confident,’’ DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “Conversely, young guys are learning how to do it.’’

For the raucous crowd of 11,354 watching the 103rd meeting of the rivals, the lead swings and drama of the closing minutes made for “a great college atmosphere,” Brey said as the Irish (18-4, 6-3 Big East) won their eighth in a row against the Blue Demons (10-11, 1-7).

Overtime was one-sided, with the Irish going 2-for-4 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the free-throw line while DePaul missed four shots and scored on just one free throw.

“We played hard for 40 minutes, but we had to play hard for 45,’’ said junior Brandon Young, one of five Demons in double figures with 15 points and five assists.

Notre Dame senior center Jack Cooley had 26 points and 16 rebounds in 42 minutes.

“[Cooley] knows where to be at all times,’’ DePaul junior forward Donnavan Kirk (11 points, seven rebounds) said.

“You have to have so much help on him, then others get open and they can spot up for threes,’’ Purnell said.

Cooley and junior guard Eric Atkins (16 points, five assists) controlled the overtime, but only after the Blue Demons took over the second half.

They trailed 39-30 at intermission and 46-34 with 16:30 left before junior Cleveland Melvin (13 points, 10 rebounds) and sophomore Jamee Crockett (13 points, six rebounds, four assists) helped turn the game around.

“We couldn’t get away from them,’’ Brey said. “I watched their game against St. John’s [a 79-74 overtime loss on Wednesday] and was impressed how hard they played. They sped us up and changed the momentum. It was work to get this [win.]”

NOTE: DePaul received a verbal commitment from RJ Currington, a 6-5 shooting guard attending Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

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