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DePaul basketball fends off Northern Illinois 69-64

DePaul guard BrandYoung celebrates after teammate scored basket during first half an NCAA college basketball game against AustPeay Rosemont Ill.

DePaul guard Brandon Young celebrates after a teammate scored a basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Austin Peay in Rosemont, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. DePaul won 98-67. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: December 16, 2012 10:16PM

Experience is something Northern Illinois, which is playing mostly freshmen and sophomores, still lacks.

It was almost all the Huskies lacked Sunday against DePaul, which needed experienced leadership and coolness at the free-throw line to secure a 69-64 victory at Allstate Arena.

‘‘Northern Illinois came out fighting, but we stayed together the final six minutes of the game,’’ said guard Brandon Young, whose two free throws with 15 seconds left boosted the Blue Demons’ lead to 67-64. ‘‘I go to the line and try to zone everything else out.’’

Young’s 15 points and five assists helped earn him the Jay Goedert Memorial Award for the second consecutive season. Goedert, who served as an assistant coach at both schools, died of a heart attack at 44 in 2004.

But it was DePaul’s collective
effectiveness from the free-throw line — the Demons made 10 in a row in the last three minutes — along with key rebounds that made the difference.

‘‘We call that ‘winning time,’ ’’ DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘I thought Northern was a little sharper and played a little harder . . . but we did play harder down the stretch, making free throws and getting rebounds. If we didn’t get those rebounds in the last minutes, we lose.’’

Stopping Huskies forward Abdel Nader (game-high 20 points) was crucial in the closing minutes, too, with Purnell assigning the job to guard Charles McKinney.

‘‘We said, ‘Go get him,’ ’’ said Purnell, who added McKinney ‘‘is rounding into a really good defender.’’

McKinney, who played briefly with Nader at Maine East, held Nader scoreless in the last four minutes.

‘‘I kind of knew his game,’’ Mc-
Kinney said. ‘‘I came in confident, too, so they both worked to my

NIU (2-7) led for much of the first half and held the Demons (8-3) scoreless from the field for a stretch of nine minutes before Young made two baskets in the final 16 seconds of the half to give DePaul a 33-31 lead at the break.

Nader, who was suspended for the first seven games of the season
for violating unspecified team rules, caught fire in the second half, scoring 15 points.

‘‘For his second game, he’s definitely a scoring threat and our
go-to guy on offense,’’ Huskies coach Mark Montgomery said. ‘‘Hopefully, his best basketball is still ahead of him.

‘‘Any time you can go on the road and be in the game with five minutes to go, it’s a positive thing. Our guys came out competing hard. We had a chance to win this thing.’’

The Demons extended their winning streak to six games despite committing 20 turnovers and being outrebounded 39-29.

‘‘I’m thrilled to get out of here with a win,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘There wasn’t a lot to complain about the last six minutes.’’

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