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Clahar keys DePaul's 75-69 win over Rutgers

The SportsXchange

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Worrel Clahar may be DePaul's smallest player, but he provided the Blue Demons' biggest shoulders Saturday.

The 5-foot-11 guard collected six late points plus a key offensive rebound with 35 seconds to play to help secure a 75-69 Big East victory over Rutgers at Allstate Arena.

"It's not about size. At the end of the day, it's about determination," said Clahar, a senior who had a team-high 19 points. "I wanted to get the rebound. I knew it was key for the team and, me being the senior leader, I had to do what I had to do."

The rebound came with DePaul holding a 70-66 lead. Seven seconds later, teammate Brandon Young was fouled and hit two insurance free throws.

Young scored 16 points, Cleveland Melvin had 15 and Donnavan Kirk added 11 for DePaul (11-14, 2-10).

Myles Mack scored a game-high 28 points for Rutgers (13-11, 4-9), which has lost seven of the last eight. Wally Judge added 10 points.

Rutgers scoring leader Eli Carter departed with 15:36 left in regulation after hitting the court and apparently injuring a right knee. After a few minutes on the bench he was helped off the court for treatment. Carter's condition was not immediately known after the game.

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell praised Clahar's clutch play as well as his team's steady performance down the stretch.

"Today when things got tight Worrel Clahar, particularly, made plays on both ends of the floor," he said. "Today we probably played as well as in any streak of games. We rebounded the ball pretty well, we didn't turn it over as much and probably the most important thing was we made plays down the stretch."

Clahar's efforts countered a Herculean effort by Mack, who scored 16 straight points on the way to a 66-64 Scarlet Knights lead with 2:42 to play.

But Mack, who stepped up after Carter was injured, missed his final three shots.

"Myles got a little tired," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. "We rode him and we got off the ball very well, but the game got away before that. ... It was the lack of intensity, the lack of energy and detail for the first 30 minutes that doomed this team tonight."

DePaul led 9-2 less than three minutes in and extended the advantage to 13-5 on five points from Melvin and 6-for-9 shooting. Rutgers, meanwhile, was just 2-for-7 (28.6 percent) in the same span.

But the Blue Demons hit their own cold patch, going 1 for 5 while the Scarlet Knights closed the gap on the way to a 22-22 tie.

Clahar collected five straight points in an 18-second span -- including back-to-back bank shots -- as DePaul opened a 27-22 lead with 4:57 left. The advantage didn't last in a see-saw final few minutes and Carter forced a 32-32 deadlock with a free throw just before halftime.

Clahar had a game-high 11 points by halftime while Rutgers Mack had 10 off the bench.

A 12-2 run early in the second half -- fueled by five points from Young and two Melvin dunks -- gave DePaul its biggest lead, 44-36, with 16:20 left.

Mack's 16 consecutive points propelled the Scarlet Knights to a 66-64 lead with 2:39 to play, the final time they were ahead.

"At the end of the day he could've scored 100," Clahar said. "As long as we got the win, it don't really matter."

NOTES: Saturday's game was the lone meeting between the teams. The Blue Demons beat the Scarlet Knights 69-64 last season. ... Melvin moved into 18th place on DePaul's all-time scoring list and now has 1,340 for his career. Young is 24th with 1,260 points. ... Young (16.7 points) and Melvin (16.6 points) came in seventh and eighth, respectively, among Big East scoring leaders. ... Carter (15.4 points) is Rutgers' leader and is 10th in the league. ... Rutgers resumes Big East play Monday at Villanova while DePaul travels to first-place Georgetown on Wednesday.
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