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DePaul defenseless in loss to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh guard Tray Woodall squeezes past DePaul’s Jamee Crockett (left) Donnavan Kirk (23) ClevelMelvin. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

Pittsburgh guard Tray Woodall squeezes past DePaul’s Jamee Crockett (left), Donnavan Kirk (23) and Cleveland Melvin. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: April 11, 2013 6:48AM

DePaul knew it would be seeded last in the Big East tournament before its 81-66 loss Saturday to No. 20 Pittsburgh at Allstate Arena in the regular-season finale.

It left the Blue Demons (11-20, 2-16) with a 7-83 Big East record in the last five years — and a 6-48 conference mark under coach Oliver Purnell, who’s completing the third year of a seven-year contract worth some $15 million.

But athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said Purnell’s job remains secure for now.

‘‘We don’t have any intention of doing anything differently with coach Purnell,’’ she said. ‘‘The reason we gave him a seven-year contract is we knew he had a major rebuilding project.

‘‘We’ve made the commitment to the major things we needed [to upgrade]. He’s been working to make his team better and also recruiting.

‘‘Recruiting is the one [area] that will have the biggest impact on the program.

‘‘DePaul has an outstanding academic standing. We have a great institution, but it’s about attracting some of the local kids and getting them to stay home. Chicagoans love watching the local talent, and we hope we can get a bunch of them to say yes.’’

She said a new arena — on the radar for completion by 2018 — is the biggest remaining element needed to help recruiting.

‘‘Either near our Lincoln Park campus or our downtown campus, it would help create that excitement that was DePaul basketball in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s the last infrastructure piece that will help us in recruiting.’’

The favored site remains the area near McCormick Place, where city and McPier board officials want to build a new arena. They have proposed that DePaul become the prime partner.

The regular season ended in lowly fashion with the Panthers setting a school record, Big East record and Allstate Arena record by shooting 71.7 percent.

‘‘Defensively, we weren’t very good,’’ said Purnell, who added that defense has been a deficiency all season.

‘‘In a lot of ways we have to get better, and those things jump out at you, but I haven’t done any evaluation yet — but I will, and I’m not pleased with how [the season] went.

‘‘Right now, it’s the Big East tournament, and that’s the ‘now.’ ’’

Senior Worrel Clahar matched his career high with 19 points. As is customary, senior walk-on Stuart Pirri was given a start.

Junior guard Brandon Young (22 points) also made program history by becoming the first player with at least 1,200 points, 400 assists and 100 three-pointers.

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