CANCUN, Mexico -- DePaul has major work to do after a disastrous four games in the Cancun Challenge. The Blue Demons didn't face a team from another power conference, yet managed to lose three of the four games.
DePaul (2-3) ended its stay in Mexico with a 70-61 loss to Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the third-place game of the Riviera Division at the Moon Palace Resort. The Blue Demons finished fourth only because a 71-59 loss to Gardner-Webb didn't affect the bracket.
Western Kentucky's zone defense controlled the game and the Hilltoppers (3-2) easily broke down DePaul's press and man-to-man defenses for layups and open jumpers. They led 41-27 at halftime.
DePaul's scoreless drought of more than five minutes in the second half allowed the Hilltoppers to build a 60-38 lead with under 10 minutes to play.
DePaul shot 37.9 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers. It missed 13 of 14 three-pointers.
Jamal Crook led Western Kentucky with 16 points.
DePaul's pressure did rattle Western Kentucky in the final minutes. Two turnovers and two baskets by Durrell McDonald cut the lead to 68-61. After a third turnover, DePaul missed a chance to tighten the game. Worrel Clahar missed a guarded three from the corner and Cleveland Melvin's tip bounced away.
Western Kentucky's Kevin Kaspar rebounded and called timeout after going to the floor with 31.7 seconds to play. Brandon Harris made two free throws with 28.4 seconds to play for a 70-61 lead. DePaul got off one more shot -- a long three by Young that missed.
Melvin led DePaul with 22 points. Brandon Young added 12 for the Blue Demons, who played without injured starter Jamee Crockett for a second game.
Western Kentucky's early switch to a zone defense slowed the Blue Demons. After a Melvin dunk, they missed three shots and turned the ball over twice, helping Western Kentucky build an 18-12 lead. DePaul's defense produced two easy baskets before Western Kentucky expanded the lead again.
A three-pointer by T.J. Price started a 12-4 run by the Hilltoppers, capped by Teeng Akol's layup after his teammates moved quickly through the DePaul press.
Up 30-20, the Hilltoppers continued to beat the Blue Demons up court for good shots. They scored on four straight possessions to take a 41-27 halftime lead on Kevin Kaspar's open three from the wing. DePaul missed its final four shots of the half after a three by Moses Morgan cut the deficit to nine points.
NOTES: Crockett missed his second game with a right knee injury. Sophomore Charles McKinney also sat out the game after suffering a knee contusion in Tuesday's loss to Wichita State.