Dec. 27, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Tre Demps scored a career-high 23 points but Northwestern was beaten at the buzzer by DePaul 57-56 Friday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Demps was named the recipient of the Waldo Fisher-Frank McGrath Award as the most valuable player of the game. He surpassed his previous high of 18 points achieved against Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 16.
What was an otherwise unassuming first 57 minutes of play gave way to a frantic final three minutes.
NU trailed the majority of the contest and was down 49-44 with five minutes to go following a dunk by Cleveland Melvin. However, freshman Nathan Taphorn answered with his second 3-pointer of the game, trimming the deficit to two.
After Sanjay Lumpkin split a pair from the free throw line, Drew Crawford scored in the paint with 2:08 to go, giving Northwestern a 50-49 lead, the Wildcats' first advantage since it was 2-0.
A three-point play by Sandi Marcius put the Blue Demons back up by two with 52.3 seconds to go. Crawford was fouled on the other end with 41.6 seconds left, but he connected on only one of two from the charity stripe. DePaul was able to beat NU's press and Marcius converted another three-point play with 35.2 seconds to give the guests a 55-51 advantage.
Demps hit two from the line on the other end to get the Wildcats back within two with 23.2 seconds left and Brandon Young followed by missing the front end of the bonus with 21.9 remaining, giving Northwestern another shot.
Demps was fouled again and sent to the line for two potential game-tying free throws with 16.8 seconds left. However, he missed both, but Crawford was able to corral the offensive rebound off the second shot. Crawford's skip pass to James Montgomery III was then fed to Dave Sobolewski at the top of the key and the junior coolly drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining.
DePaul had one last chance, though, and Billy Garrett was barely able to get off a shot at the rim that hung on the rim and then fell threw at the buzzer, giving Blue Demons the dramatic victory.
Neither team shot well in the contest as Northwestern shot 32.1 percent from the field while DePaul finished at 36.8 percent. Crawford had 15 points for the 'Cats while Marcius paced the Blue Demons with Melvin adding 11.
Both teams struggled to take care of the ball early on and NU's shooting struggles to start the game allowed DePaul to jump out to a 10-4 lead.
Northwestern was able to get the Blue Demons in foul trouble as the hosts were in the bonus at the midway point of the half. Two free throws by Sobolewski closed the deficit to 12-10 with 9:42 to go.
However, the Wildcats' turnovers continued to mount and DePaul eventually extended its lead back up to seven, 18-11, before Demps drilled a 3-pointer out of the corner. Another triple by Taphorn trimmed the deficit to two before Demps hit two from the line to make it a 10-3 run as the 'Cats tied the game 21-21 with 3:51 remaining in the half.
DePaul would eventually score the final five points of the half to take a 28-23 lead at the intermission as both teams shot under 30 percent from the field over the opening 20 minutes of play.
Northwestern was within 35-31 four minutes into the second half following two free throws by Crawford before Melvin scored consecutive baskets to push the Blue Demons lead back up to eight.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Demps and JerShon Cobb quickly got the Wildcats back within 39-37 with 12 minutes left.
The deficit would go back to six, but Demps' fourth triple of the contest gave him a career-high 21 points and got NU within 47-44 with 7:22 remaining.
It would set up a wild finish with DePaul making the final play down the stretch to come away with the victory.
The Wildcats return to action next Thursday, Jan. 2 when it opens Big Ten play against Wisconsin at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 888-GO-PURPLE or by visiting NUsports.com.
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