DePaul gets past Wright State on late surge

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- DePaul coach Oliver Purnell called it a flawless stretch drive.
The Blue Demons trailed, 68-61, with eight minutes to play, but went on a 20-4 run to sprint past Wright State, 81-72, in non-conference game at Allstate Arena on Saturday.
"We played the last six minutes of the game flawlessly," Purnell said. "We did the three things that we need to go to win those games -- and we're going to be in a lot of them -- shoot our free throws well, make sure we get a solid shot where we want the basketball every time down and don't turn it over."
Forward Cleveland Melvin collected a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds for his 15th career double-double, and three teammates added double-figure efforts for DePaul (2-1) in the second round CBE Hall of Fame Classic match.
DePaul made 28-of-36 free throws, including a 6-for-6 by Melvin, who scored 16 second-half points and 10 in the final eight minutes. He added an exclamation point dunk for DePaul's final points with 27 seconds to play.
"Cleve really stepped up for us at the end," said guard Brandon Young, who added 14 points on his 22nd birthday. "When he attacks the rim I don't think he can be stopped. When he goes to the rim he's going to wind up being fouled or get the bucket."
Freshman center Tommy Hamilton IV had 13 points, while guard Billy Garrett Jr. added 12 in the first meeting between the programs.
Wright State managed one field goal, A.J. Pacher's layup, during DePaul's late run and the Raiders (1-2) dropped their second straight.
Forward JT Yoho topped the Raiders with 13 points, Pacher and guard Matt Vest had 11 and forward Jerran Young added 10.
Pacher, who had 22 points in a season-opening victory over Mount St. Joseph, was not a factor in the late going, fouling out with 2:05 to play.
"When you got a kid who gets 11 points in 12 minutes and you can't play him, it's impactful," said Wright State coach Billy Donlon, whose team met the Blue Demons for the first time.
"We didn't play very smart the last six-seven minutes. But credit DePaul. Their two seniors (Melvin and Young) really stepped up when it mattered."
Wright State led, 35-33, at halftime and maintained an edge that fluctuated between one and seven points through the first 15:45 of the half.
But a 10-0 DePaul run turned the tables, as Young gave the Blue Demons their first lead of the second half, 69-68, with a jumper with 4:16 left in regulation.
Young added a fast break layup 22 seconds later for a 71-68 advantage.
DePaul had 15 first half turnovers, but only four in the second half.
Wright State scored eight unanswered points in the opening two minutes, but then went cold for the next six while DePaul scored 10 straight.
Vest's 3-pointer gave the Raiders an 11-8 lead at the 12- minute mark. DePaul tied the score, 11-11, on center Hamilton's 3-point play and the game briefly settled into a back-and-forth routine.
Vest's fast break layup with 9:15 left in the half gave the Raiders a 17-14 lead and kept the Blue Demons at arm's length until the final 85 seconds.
That's when forward Jamee Crockett hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a temporary 33-32 DePaul lead.
But forward Cole Darling of Wright State was fouled on a layup with 8.7 seconds left in the half and added a free throw as the Raiders claimed a 35-33 halftime lead.
Both teams were coming off losses last week, as Wright State fell at Georgetown, 88-70, while DePaul suffered a 75-68 loss to Southern Mississippi on Wednesday.
Wright State continues CBE play at home on Sunday against Manchester. DePaul has a non-conference game on Tuesday at Milwaukee and steps back into CBE play Nov. 25 against No. 16 Wichita State in Kansas City.
NOTES: Forward Cleveland Melvin moved past Sammy Mejia (2003-07) into ninth place on DePaul's all-time scoring list with a rebound basket late in Saturday's first half. Melvin became the ninth Blue Demon to pass 1,500 points, finishing the day with 1,514. ... DePaul ran its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 614 on Tommy Hamilton's shot with 16:57 left in the opening half. ... The Raiders are picked second in the Horizon League in a preseason poll, but received more first place votes (22) than league favorite Green Bay (21). ... A.J. Pacher, the Raiders' reigning team MVP, played in his 100th career game for Wright State on Saturday.