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DePaul staves off Chicago State's upset bid

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- DePaul initially figured Chicago State wouldn't offer much of a challenge Wednesday.

The Cougars proved otherwise, putting the Blue Demons into a 14-point halftime hole and offering a valuable lesson before DePaul rallied for a 74-64 nonconference victory at the Jones Convocation Center.

"We kind of looked down at them and paid them no mind," admitted DePaul's Brandon Young, who scored a game-high 21 points. "We thought we were going to come out here and get an easy win, which it wasn't. We know we can't do that in the long run."

The Blue Demons (5-3) captured their third straight win. Cleveland Melvin and Worrel Clahar added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for DePaul.

Four players scored in double figures for the Cougars (2-8), who shot 5-for-26 from the field in the second half. Matt Ross contributed a team-high 20 points. Quinton Pippen scored 14, Greg Tucker had 13 and Clarke Rosenberg added 10.

After a big first half, the Cougars struggled with the Blue Demons' pressure, leading to 13 second-half turnovers. Chicago State didn't hit a field goal for the first 8:15 of the second half.

"We have to do a better job taking care of the ball," Cougars coach Tracy Dildy said. "We go from six turnovers in the first half to finishing the game with 19. We run the point guard position by committee, and it shows.

"But once we put together two halves, we're going to be a good ballclub. In January and February, we're going to be a really good basketball team."

The Blue Demons opened the second half with a 15-2 run to nearly erase their deficit, but they didn't pull ahead until Melvin's two free throws gave them a 51-50 lead with 8:22 to play. DePaul then dominated down the stretch.

"It was clearly a game of halves for both teams," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "I was pleased with the way our team responded in the second half. Sometimes it's hard to turn that switch, and we clearly did and held them to 20 points in the second half.

"We (also) rebounded the ball all night long, and offensively we got the ball inside where we wanted and lived on the free-throw line."

The Blue Demons had a 48-30 edge on the boards -- including a 20-10 edge on offensive rebounds -- and they went 26-for-33 from the foul line. The Cougars finished 12-for-18 on foul shots.

DePaul is now 11-0 against Chicago State in a North Side-South Side series that dates back to 1992.

The Cougars used a dominating run to open a 44-30 halftime lead on the cold-shooting visitors. Pippen score 12 first-half points, and Ross added 11 before the break.

DePaul had an early advantage as it launched a 9-0 run about eight minutes into the first half. The Blue Demons led 20-10 after two Derrell Robertson free throws at the 12:18 mark.

But the Cougars chipped away over the next four minutes. Pippen hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Greg Tucker added a layup and free throw to force a 24-24 tie at 7:27 mark.

Ross then gave Chicago State a 28-26 lead on a jumper, and Tucker added a 3-pointer for a 31-26 lead. The Cougars outscored the Blue Demons 13-4 on the way to the double-digit halftime lead.

NOTES: Chicago State announced that it would join the Western Athletic Conference in 2013-14. The Cougars currently play in the Great West ... Tuesday's game was DePaul's first visit to Chicago State's Jones Convocation Center. The Blue Demons have hosted all 10 previous meetings and won each, including last year's 105-95 shootout at Allstate Arena ... The Cougars have lost seven of their past eight games, including a 71-57 setback last week at SIU-Edwardsville. ... Chicago State travels to Alabama State on Friday, while DePaul hosts Milwaukee on Sunday.
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