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Melvin leads DePaul to route of Houston Baptist

The SportsXchange

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin was an all-around menace in one of his best career performances on Wednesday.

The Blue Demons senior collected a season-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds, a pair of blocks and steals and two assists as DePaul pulled away in the second half in a 78-58 non-conference victory over the Houston Baptist Huskies at Allstate Arena.

"I thought it was one of Cleve's best games here," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "He found post position inside against the zone, he anchored our defense pretty good with either blocked shots or changing shots. He was pretty dominant for us, particularly in the second half."

The third straight victory for DePaul (7-4) coincided with the 100th anniversary of the late coach Ray Meyer's birth. Meyer, who coached his share of elite players in a 42-year career, would likely have appreciated Melvin's efforts.

"Coach wanted us from the start to be aggressive and that's what I did," said Melvin, who had his third double-double of the season. "Billy (Garrett Jr.), Brandon (Young) and Tom (Hamilton) all were definitely looking for me and got to the right spot.

Meyer, born on Dec. 18, 1913, coached 42 seasons at DePaul, posting a 724-324 career record and 37 winning seasons. He won the 1945 National Invitation Tournament championship and reached the NCAA Final Four in 1943 and 1979.

Meyer died in 2006 at age 92.

Forward Cody Joyce scored 14 points, and guard Rob Lewis added 11 for the Huskies, losers of three straight.

DePaul center Tommy Hamilton IV scored 14 points, and guard Brandon Young contributed 11 in the first-ever meeting between the teams.

The Blue Demons led 33-27 at halftime, then twice opened 11-point advantages. Houston Baptist climbed back to within single digits early each time, but the Blue Demons started to pull as the clock moved under nine minutes.

Melvin's jumper gave DePaul a 58-44 lead with 8:17 to go. DePaul guard Charles McKinney added two free throws 20 seconds later to make it 60-44. Melvin then scored five points in a 10-second span as the lead reached 65-45.

The Huskies (3-8) got no closer than 19 points the rest of the way, and they went more than four minutes without a basket in the late going.

"I thought it was one of our better second halves of the season," Purnell said. "Offensively we were spot on in terms of attacking the zone and when they went man we still kept going inside. (And) I thought our energy kept getting better as the game went along."

Houston Baptist coach Ron Cottrell declined to make post-game comments and Huskies players were also not made available after the game.

DePaul trailed 15-14 following Huskies guard Marcel Smith's 3-pointer with 11:43 left in the first half. But the Blue Demons then employed an 11-2 run -- including six points from Melvin -- to open a 26-17 lead with 7:23 left.

The Huskies closed the gap to 31-27 following guard Tyler Russell's 3-pointer with 54 seconds left, but Melvin hit two free throws for a 33-27 lead entering halftime.

Neither team shot particularly well in the opening half, hovering in the mid-30 percent range. But the Blue Demons did manage 10 points off 10 turnovers. Melvin scored a game-high 15 points in the first half, while Joyce paced Houston Baptist with eight.

NOTES: DePaul played its final home non-conference game of the season. The Blue Demons are 6-2 on campus and at Allstate Arena. ... After two road games, including Sunday at Illinois State, the Blue Demons kick off Big East play on Dec. 31 at Georgetown. ... Garrett was named Big East rookie of the week after averaging 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two wins last week. ... Young is the first DePaul guard since Rod Strickland (1985-88) to record 100 assists in three straight seasons. ... The DePaul stop was the first of four consecutive road games for Houston Baptist, a run that takes the Huskies to Pepperdine, Oral Roberts and Central Arkansas through Jan. 4. ... Cottrell is in his 23rd season at the school and is 423-300 overall.
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