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DePaul’s last game in ‘old’ Big East is 76-57 loss to Rutgers

Rutgers' AustJohnsright shoots over DePaul's Donnavan Kirk (23) during first half an NCAA college basketball game Big East Conference tournament

Rutgers' Austin Johnson, right, shoots over DePaul's Donnavan Kirk (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big East Conference tournament, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Updated: April 14, 2013 6:44AM



NEW YORK — DePaul’s last game in the ‘‘old’’ Big East mirrored its sad history in the conference, with the Blue Demons falling 76-57 to Rutgers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

DePaul (11-21) went out with
another display of absent defense, allowing the Scarlet Knights (15-15) to shoot 61 percent from the field (33-for-54).

‘‘Defensively, we struggled all year,’’ Demons coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘Tonight was another
example. We need to become a good defensive rebounding team. If we take care of the defensive boards, it translates on the other end. . . . It’s not rocket science that defense wins games.’’

Purnell acknowledged his third season at the helm of the program went badly.

‘‘The first thing I told the guys was we all need to look in the mirror, and that starts with me,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s what I’ll be doing tonight.’’

The Demons trailed 32-31 at the half after Rutgers’ Myles Mack made a three-pointer as time ran out. But the game became a blowout quickly in the second half, with the Scarlet Knights going on a 16-6 run and 6-9 junior Wally Judge becoming the difference-maker. Judge’s 9-for-9 performance from the field tied a Big East tournament record, and his 20 points and 10 rebounds led Rutgers — one of the two teams DePaul had defeated in conference play during the regular season.

‘‘Our bigs weren’t in the game the first time,’’ Scarlet Knights coach Mike Rice said of the Feb. 16 loss to the Demons at Allstate Arena. ‘‘Wally got the ball tonight. We thought that would be our one advantage — to go inside.’’

Rutgers got 50 points in the paint and outrebounded DePaul 36-20.

‘‘It was one of our best execution games of the season,’’ said Rice, who got a vote of confidence before the game from Scarlet Knights athletic director Tim Pernetti.

Demons athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto has given Purnell continued support, too, with four years left on his seven-year contract. But Purnell admitted there is a lot of work ahead, including a stepped-up recruiting effort.

‘‘We have a number of guys back, but clearly we can’t stand pat,’’ he said. ‘‘That doesn’t work.’’

Returning players will include juniors Cleveland Melvin, who led DePaul with 25 points, and Brandon Young, who added 15.

‘‘We have to learn to do a better job on the defensive end, like Coach said,’’ Melvin said.

The loss left DePaul with a 1-6 record in Big East tournament play. Its only victory came in a
first-round game against Cincinnati in 2009.



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