ROSEMONT, Ill. (CBSNewYork/AP) — DePaul had lost close games and been routed during its nine-game losing streak.
For the first time since Jan. 5, the Blue Demons were victorious.
Worrel Clahar scored a career-high 19 points to lead DePaul to a 75-69 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.
Brandon Young added 16 points, Cleveland Melvin scored 15 and Donnavan Kirk had 11 for the Blue Demons (11-14, 2-10 Big East). They hadn’t won since beating Providence 83-73 on the road on Jan. 5. DePaul is 1-5 at home in the Big East.
“(It’s) about time we get the show on the road, we get rolling right here toward the end of the season and take it right into New York when we go to the Big East tournament,” Clahar said.
Myles Mack led the Scarlet Knights (13-11, 4-9) with a career-high 28 points — 18 after halftime.
Young’s layup gave the Blue Demons their largest lead at that point, 58-48, with 9:08 left.
After Kirk’s layup put DePaul ahead 60-50 with 7:58 remaining, Mack scored Rutgers’ next 16 points and the Scarlet Knights held a 66-64 lead with 2:42 left. Clahar made a layup, Charles McKinney hit a free throw and Clahar completed a three-point play to give DePaul a 70-66 lead with 1:36 remaining.
Jerome Seagears’ 3-pointer cut DePaul’s lead to 72-69 with 20 seconds left. Clahar made a free throw and Melvin sealed the win with a dunk.
In the losing streak, DePaul had dropped three overtime games in the last five games, including Wednesday at No. 21 Notre Dame.
“We rebounded the ball pretty well. We didn’t turn it over as much,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “And probably the most important thing is we made plays down the stretch.
“Today, when things got tight, Worrel Clahar particularly made big plays on both ends of the floor.”
Rutgers coach Mike Rice lamented his team’s turnovers and missed free throws. The Scarlet Knights shot 14 of 20 from the line and committed 13 turnovers, but they hurt themselves long before their late rally, Rice said.
“The lack of intensity, lack of energy for the first 30 minutes doomed our team,” Rice said. “They wanted it more.”
Rutgers has lost seven of its last eight games. Its only win in that span came Tuesday against Seton Hall.
DePaul opened the second half on a 10-2 run after it was 32-32 at halftime.
Eli Carter, who scored four points and was averaging 15.4 points for Rutgers, left the game with a lower leg injury with 15:36 remaining as DePaul led 44-38.
DePaul led by as many as eight points in the first half. Rutgers took its first lead, 31-30, on Mack’s 3-pointer with 59 seconds left before the break. Clahar’s layup with 43 seconds remaining gave the lead back to DePaul. Carter made one of two free throws with 6.1 seconds left to tie the score.
Clahar led DePaul at halftime with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in just his fourth start of the season and second start in three games.
He started in place of Jamee Crockett.
“I stopped settling. I was more aggressive attacking the rim,” Clahar said. “I got great assists from Brandon Young. He set me up real well.
“I was slashing to the rim on transition breaks. It was a team effort.”
Clahar shot 7 of 8 from the field and had seven assists, three steals and three turnovers. His previous career high was 16 points.
“It’s the best he’s played since he’s been here,” Purnell said.
Mack, whose previous career high was 24 points, led Rutgers with 10 points in the first half.
DePaul opened the game with a 13-5 lead and extended it to 18-11.
Rutgers surged back to cut the lead to 20-18 with 8:27 remaining before halftime on Seagears’ 3-pointer. Mack’s layup tied the game at 20 with 7:27 left in the half. Clahar scored five consecutive points to give DePaul a 27-22 lead.
DePaul has won two in a row against Rutgers after losing four straight in the series.
The Blue Demons ended their longest losing streak since the 2010-11 season, when they dropped 12 consecutive games.
DePaul plays at No. 15 Georgetown on Wednesday. Rutgers will play at Villanova on Monday.
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