DePaul 85, Fairfield 78

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Cleveland Melvin got DePaul off to a rousing start with 24 first half points, but the Blue Demons struggled to finish on Tuesday before finally prevailing 85-78 over Fairfield at Allstate Arena.
DePaul (3-3) led by as many as 14 points before Fairfield (3-4) rallied to within five points at 78-73 with 2:04 to play on ex-De LaSalle star Derek Needham's 3-pointer.
But that's as close as the Stags could get.
Melvin matched a career high with 30 points, Brandon Young had 20 while Charles McKinney and Donnavan Kirk added 11 and 10 points, respectively as DePaul snapped a two-game losing streak.
Needham, meanwhile, collected a career-high 29 points.
Melvin, targeting a career-high 30 points set last December against Chicago State, scored 13 of DePaul's first 15 points and had 20 following a three-point play at the 8:30 mark.
The Blue Demon junior was shut out until the 12:25 mark of the second half when he scored on a layup to match a season-high of 26 points. He added two free throws with 7:35 to play and tied his career high with a put back with 50 seconds to play.
Needham had 16 first half points -- including three 3-pointers for the Stags, who battled back from a 15-point deficit to climb to within eight just before halftime.
Melvin scored 13 of DePaul's first 15 points as the Blue Demons got off to a rousing start. DePaul led 45-37 at halftime Melvin collected 24 points while Young and McKinney each added six.
Melvin, who came into the game averaging 18.6 points, hit six of his first seven shots in the opening six minutes. He already had 20 points following a three-point play at the 8:30 mark as he closed in on a career record of 30 points set on Dec. 10, 2011, against Chicago State.
Back home after a two-game Mexican road trip, DePaul entered Tuesday's non-conference game hoping to break out of an early season slump that included back-to-back losses to Wichita State and Western Kentucky at last week's Cancun Challenge.
Fairfield resumes play Saturday at Austin Peay in its final non-league tune-up before opening MAAC on Dec. 7 at home against Canisius. DePaul travels to Auburn on Friday as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge in the first meeting between the programs.
NOTES: Fairfield was facing its second consecutive Big East opponent following a 66-47 loss at Providence last Friday. ... Tuesday's game was also was a homecoming for Needham, the Stags' scoring leader who averaged 12.7 points through the season's first six games. He attended Chicago-DeLaSalle High School and earned all-Catholic League and second team all-state honors as a senior ... Stags reserve Colin Nickerson -- from Waukegan, Ill. -- averaged 6.3 points through six games. ... DePaul has used four different starting lineups so far this season, but Donnavan Kirk, Melvin and Young have appeared in every game. ... The teams last met 10 years ago, a 73-45 DePaul victory at Allstate Arena. They also played in 2001 at New York's Madison Square Garden -- a 94-90 Blue Demon win. ... When Wilson Chandler (2005-07) played in the Denver Nuggets season opener last month in Philadelphia, it extending DePaul's streak to 38 consecutive years where an ex-Blue Demon played in an NBA opener. ... DePaul has seven more non-conference games before opening Big East play Jan. 2 at home against Seton Hall.

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