DePaul Cruises to Exhibition Win Over Lewis
Nov. 3, 2012
CHICAGO - If this was a sign of things to come, strap it up for a breakneck pace at DePaul this season.
In a game full of fast-court presses and fast-break blitzes up and down the court, the Blue Demons streaked past Lewis University 91-74 Saturday night in their preseason opener at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Cleveland Melvin was dominant with 25 points and 11 rebounds, although he made just 3 of 9 from the free-throw line.
Jamee Crockett contributed 14 points, six assists and three steals while Donnavan Kirk came away with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Charles McKinney added 10 points, three rebounds and three steals and Brandon Young also scored 10 points.
"Cleve (Melvin) struggled at times, but he hung in there," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "If he makes his free throws, he is going to score a lot more points.
"He will get after it. A guy like him is going to get fouled a lot.
"I was pleased with Donnavan, and it's good to see him get off to a good start. He knocked down a few shots, rebounded in there and this is another step in his progression."
The Blue Demons jumped out to a 26-10 lead midway through the first half as their pressure defense and athleticism were a little too much for Lewis to handle.
Kirk and Crockett sparked a 13-3 surge that gave the home team a 39-13 lead.
A healthy Kirk makes quite a difference in the Blue Demon scheme. The 6-foot, 9-inch junior who was hampered by back problems last season displayed some smooth inside moves and provided defensive protection around the basket.
McKinney made his presence felt all over the court. The DePaul defensive specialist was at his best disrupting the Flyers' offensive flow and generally making a pest of himself to the visitors from southwest suburban Romeoville.
Offensively he was out quickly on the break and made some athletic moves to the basket.
Freshman Durrell McDonald acquitted himself well in the first half, confidently taking on the playmaker role that allowed Brandon Young to freelance a little more and uncover ways to attack the Lewis zone defense.
Spotting an opening, Young made one diagonal zip pass to Kirk for an easy basket underneath on the way to a 52-27 halftime lead.
"I was happy with Durrell McDonald," Purnell said. "It was his first time out there and he seemed to be a guy who can generate energy defensively."
Continuing to attack, the Blue Demons went on an 11-2 run early in the second half in establishing a 63-32 lead.
Purnell said he saw improvement in his team's half-court defense and rebounding.
"Our guards got in there rebounding, and that's huge for us," Purnell said. "That helps because we don't have a real big team. I was pleased with our defense and rebounding in the first half."
Some torrid outside shooting from David Bryant, who finished with 23 points, sparked the Flyer offense in the second half.
DePaul opens the regular season Friday with an 8 p.m. game against UC Riverside at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Notes: After scoring 68 points in 2010 and 70 in 2011 against Lewis, DePaul finished with 91 on Saturday night...DePaul shot 59.6-percent from the field in the first half...Kirk tallied 10 boards after having just one double-digit rebound game last season (11, Feb. 25, 2012 vs. Providence)...after the 17:04 mark of the first half, DePaul's lead never dropped below 10...Lewis head coach Scott Trost served as assistant coach under current Blue Demon assistant Brian Ellerbe at Michigan from 1997-2001.