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Marquette hands DePaul 8th straight loss

BrandYoung (21 points six assists) was bright spot for DePaul which lost its eighth game row. | AP

Brandon Young (21 points, six assists) was a bright spot for DePaul, which lost its eighth game in a row. | AP

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:55AM

MILWAUKEE — March Madness already is the focus for No. 24 Marquette, which sits atop the Big East after an 89-78 victory Saturday over DePaul.

“The sky’s the limit for this team,’’ said junior guard Vander Blue, who led the Golden Eagles (17-5, 8-2) with 18 points. “From top to bottom we have everything we need.

“The [NCAA] tournament will be so wide open, it’s all up for grabs. There’s no telling. Teams don’t want to play us in March. We’re going to have that ‘March’ focus now.’’

For the Blue Demons (10-13, 1-9), who lost their eighth in a row, the February focus is only on the next game.

“It’s tough because we’re right there,’’ said senior guard Worrel Clahar (16 points, four assists). “We just have to get over the hump. There’s no time for moral victories. We have to focus on the next game.’’

DePaul was competitive for much of the game, trimming the lead to four with 5:28 left on back-to-back three-pointers by Clahar and junior Donnavan Kirk (career high 16 points). But the Golden Eagles finished strong, hitting nine of their 24 free threes in the closing minutes. They also converted 15 second-chance points in the game.

“They missed 24 shots but rebounded half their misses, and what happens is you get point-blank shots,’’ DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said.

Marquette senior guard Junior Cadougan menaced DePaul as well, scoring 17 points — many on driving layups — with six assists and five rebounds.

“They set ball screens for him, and he’s so relentless,’’ Purnell said.

The Demons played short-handed, with junior Moses Morgan out with a fractured cheekbone.

Sophomore starter Jamee Crockett came off the bench and played only 13 minutes after personal matters limited his practice time.

Freshman walk-on Peter Ryckbosch and junior Edwind McGhee, the former walk-on put on scholarship in December, played a combined 18 minutes.

Junior guard Brandon Young led the Demons with 21 points, and his six assists gave him 103 for the season. He becomes the first DePaul player since Rod Strickland (1986-88) to record three consecutive seasons of at least 100 assists.

But junior Cleveland Melvin had only nine points and four rebounds.

“They call in the cavalry when Cleve catches it, and he has to move around more,’’ Purnell said.

Melvin was whistled for a technical foul after blocking a shot with three minutes left in the first half, a play that led to extra free throws for junior Davante Gardner when DePaul trailed only 34-32.

“I told the guys I was proud of the way we fought but not about the loss,’’ Purnell said. “In order to be proud of both, we have to fight more. Everyone has to look in the mirror and do more.

“Marquette is a solid team that doesn’t have any ‘supers,’ but they’re all really good and they play well together.’’

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