ROSEMONT, Ill. -- DePaul senior forward Sandi Marcius received a crash course in how to play under the basket from a pretty knowledgeable source, former Blue Demons All-American Mark Aguirre.
For the past week, Marcius spent extra practice time working with Aguirre, a current undergraduate assistant coach who led DePaul to its only Final Four appearance in 1980.
The extra work showed Thursday as Marcius turned in a career performance with 19 points and 12 rebounds to power DePaul past Florida Atlantic 81-70 in a non-conference game at Allstate Arena.
"We've been working on and off (with Aguirre), but the last week has been a lot, even twice a day after workouts," said Marcius, a transfer from Purdue. "Even for like 15, 20 minutes, but it adds up after a few days. It's really good work just for technique-wise."
DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin finished with 19 points and six rebounds, guard Billy Garrett scored 14 points, and guard Brandon Young added 12 points and six assists as the Blue Demons (5-4) won for the second time in their past five games.
A 30-point effort from guard Pablo Bertone, the reigning Conference USA Player of the Week, wasn't enough for the Owls, who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Guard Jackson Trapp added 17 points for FAU (3-7), which played without injured center Dragan Sekelja.
"They won the game by outrebounding and getting a lot of put-backs, taking advantage of their depth on the boards," Owls coach Mike Jarvis said. "We had our chances, and if a couple whistles had gone our way, you never know."
Led by Marcius, DePaul finished with a 38-29 advantage in rebounding, including an 18-13 edge on the offensive side.
Two games after scoring a then-career-best 15 points against Oregon State, Marcius topped himself with his first double-double. Most of his points came in the first half as DePaul weathered a cold start from the floor that led to an eight-point deficit.
"We were kind of soft in the first half, that's why they kept along with us," Marcius said. "But then in the second half we got all those cleaned up, especially on the defensive end, and that gave us the opportunity to pull away."
The Blue Demons opened the second half building on the momentum they gained to close out the first half. They led throughout the second half, turning a one-point advantage into an 11-point victory.
"We didn't start off guarding them very well and settled for a few jump shots and just weren't patient against the zone early," Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell said. "After the first seven or eight minutes, we got into a rhythm. Our energy and communication picked up on the defensive end of the floor."
Garrett increased DePaul's lead to 58-52, ending a scoring drought that lasted more than three minutes. A jump shot by Young pushed DePaul's lead to 60-52 a short time later.
The Blue Demons had trouble putting the Owls away, though. A Trapp 3-pointer cut the margin to 62-58 with 7:20 remaining.
Melvin answered with five consecutive points, making it 67-58 when he drilled a 3-pointer with 5:36 to go. After a basket by FAU guard D'Andre Johnson, Melvin restored the Blue Demons' nine-point lead with a dunk off a Young assist with just over four minutes left.
Garrett pushed the lead to 74-64 with a 3-pointer about 90 seconds later.
After trailing for most of the first half, the Blue Demons went to the break leading 38-37. DePaul outscored Florida Atlantic 20-11 in the final seven minutes, with Melvin's tap-in of his own miss just ahead of the horn capping the spurt.
The momentum shift proved too much for the Owls to overcome.
"I talked to the guys (at halftime) and said, 'Forget about what just happened. Focus on the next play. We're playing well,'" Bertone said. "But if you see the way the game was going later on, (DePaul's late first-half surge) hurt us."
Marcius, who entered the game averaging 5.0 points, provided the Blue Demons a presence underneath that got them back into the game. The 6-foot-10 senior from Nedelisce, Croatia, finished the half with a team-high 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field.
Poor shooting plagued the Blue Demons in the opening 12 minutes, allowing the Owls to build the game's biggest lead at 26-18 after two free throws by center Justin Raffington with 8:01 left in the first half.
At that point, DePaul was 8-for-22 from the field (25 percent), including two misses on back-to-back offensive rebounds. The Blue Demons made eight of their final 13 from the floor in the first half, and they ended the night shooting 32-for-61 (52.5 percent).
NOTES: DePaul's four losses this season were to teams with a combined 33-4 record (.892). The Blue Demons' strength of schedule was ranked 14th by CBSSports.com through Tuesday's games. ... DePaul earned its 1,400th victory since its first recognized season of 1923-24. The Blue Demons are 1,400-905. ... Senior G Brandon Young moved passed Sammy Mejia for 10th on DePaul's career scoring list.