ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Dramatic changes may lie ahead for DePaul basketball, but the Blue Demons still had more immediate business to take care of Sunday.
Brandon Young collected a team-high 15 points -- including four key free throws in the final 1:43, including two with 15 seconds left -- in a 69-64 nonconference victory over Northern Illinois at Allstate Arena.
Jamee Crockett had 14 points and Cleveland Melvin added 12 as DePaul (8-3) claimed its sixth straight victory.
Abdel Nader had a game-high 20 points and Akeem Springs added 11 for the 2-7 Huskies, who've dropped two straight and five of their last six.
The victory was the Blue Demons' third in a row over the Huskies.
Sunday's game came a day after DePaul announced it would join seven Catholic, non-football-playing institutions and withdraw from the Big East in 2015 to form a new basketball-focused conference.
Joining DePaul as the core of a new league would be Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova.
Northern Illinois fielded a young starting lineup with three freshmen plus Nader, a sophomore. Freshmen have accounted for 64.7 percent of the Huskies' minutes this season.
DePaul's lineup included one freshman -- guard Durrell McDonald, making his sixth start -- while sophomore center Derrell Robertson Jr. made his second career start and first of the season.
The Blue Demons led through much of the opening half, but couldn't pull away from the pesky Huskies.
DePaul started to establish command when a Crocket slam opened a 22-16 lead. However, Northern Illinois answered with six straight points, including consecutive steals and scores from guard Mike Davis that forced a 22-22 tie with 7:32 remaining.
The Huskies went ahead 24-23 on Aksel Bolin's layup and were up 31-27 lead with 2:01 showing. But Blue Demon guard Charles McKinney hit two free throws and Young drained a pair of jumpers in an eight-second span to give DePaul a 33-31 lead by halftime.
The Blue Demons padded the lead early in the second half, pulling out to a 40-33 lead on McDonald's 3-pointer at the 15:09 mark. The Huskies bounced back as Nader scored six points and Davis added a bank shot to force a 49-49 tie with 8:02 remaining.
There were four lead changes and a tie until Crockett's 3-pointer with 4:05 to play gave DePaul the lead for good at 57-56.
Northern Illinois' Springs hit two 3-pointers in a 14-second span, and the second cut the Demon lead to 65-64 with 16 seconds showing.
But Young hit two free throws for a 67-64 lead, and DePaul secured the win after Nader missed a 3-point try with 3.4 seconds left.
The Blue Demons return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday against Maryland-Baltimore at home and close the non-conference part of its schedule Dec. 29 against North Side rival Loyola.
Northern Illinois starts a two-game Pacific Northwest swing on Wednesday at Seattle University and plays Saturday at Washington.
NOTES: Sunday's meeting was the 31th between the area programs. DePaul now holds a 25-6 series lead ... Young was honored postgame with the Jay Goddert award as the game's outstanding player. The award was named after a man who served as an assistant coach at both DePaul and Northern Illinois and died at age 44 in 2004 ... The Huskies had been idle since an 80-73 overtime loss at Milwaukee on Dec. 9 ... DePaul is now 79-34 all time against current Mid-American Conference members. NIU is its most common MAC foe ... In last week's 78-61 victory at Arizona State, Cleveland Melvin had 12 points on 12/12/12. He also wears that number ... Northern Illinois last beat DePaul on Nov. 28, 2005, a 77-68 decision at NIU's Convocation Center.