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Melvin's 30 Lead DePaul Over Fairfield
Melvin tied a career-high with 30 points Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.


Melvin tied a career-high with 30 points Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.

Nov. 27, 2012

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – Whether it was jump shots, put-backs or hook shots inside, Cleveland Melvin put on quite a show Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.

The 6-foot, 8-inch junior forward tied a career high with 30 points in leading DePaul to an 85-78 victory over Fairfield.

Melvin, who scored 24 points in the first half, was exactly what the Blue Demons needed in snapping out of an early-season malaise accounting for three losses in their previous four games.

“Cleve was catching the ball in the middle and that made it hard to double-team him,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. “Teams have a hard time getting to him because of his quickness.

“That’s his kind of scoring---hitting a jump shot or two, that seven-foot hook shot, running the court and getting a layup.”

After Melvin’s dominant first half, DePaul (3-3) opened the second half on a 12-4 run behind Brandon Young (20 points, five assists) and Donnavan Kirk (10 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots) in building a 57-41 lead.

Fairfield (3-4) wouldn’t concede anything, and back-to-back Derek Needham baskets left the Stags trailing 76-70 with 3:45 left in the game. The former De La Salle star had a stellar performance for the visiting team with 29 points and eight assists.

Kirk’s basket in the lane made it 78-70 with 3:20 to go. A Needham three-pointer brought Fairfield within 78-73 with just over two minutes left. A Young free throw and Melvin tip-in restored an eight-point lead.

“We built the lead by pressuring the ball and moving on offense,” said Young who scored five of DePaul’s last seven points. “Towards the end we got a little tentative. As a point guard, it was my job to take control.

“Cleve had a great game running the court, scoring and rebounding. That’s what we need from him every game.”

Early in the first half, Melvin scored 15 points to ignite a 27-11 DePaul run. During one stretch, Melvin scored 11 in a row and 13 of his team’s first 15 points.

A Melvin three-point play extended the lead to 34-19 and gave him 20 points. That’s when Needham went on a nine-point burst to bring Fairfield within 41-33.

Charles McKinney (11 points, four assists, three steals) responded with a pair of baskets for the home team, but Needham scored the final four points of the first half to give him 16 points in the first 20 minutes.

DePaul went into the locker room with a 45-37 lead and Melvin had 24 points---six shy of his career high set last year against Chicago State.

“Tonight we played good basketball in longer stretches,” Purnell said. “We’re trying to develop some consistency, and if we do, we have the ability to go on a roll.

“I thought Durrell McDonald gave us some tempo and quickness in his first start. He was very good in our pressure defense which got us the lead.”

That was a key component of the game according to Needham.

“The main thing in our scouting report was to take care of the basketball,” Needham said as Fairfield committed 19 turnovers with McKinney, Worrell Clahar and Moses Morgan getting three steals apiece. “We didn’t do a very good job of it.”

Next up for DePaul is an 8 p.m. road game against Auburn Friday night in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge telecast on ESPNU and broadcaston WSCR-AM 670 The Score.

Postgame Notes

- The win snapped a brief two-game losing streak for the Blue Demons... the last time DePaul lost three straight non-conference games was in a four-game skid from Nov. 16-28, 2010.

- DePaul used its fifth different starting lineup in six games this season... freshman Durrell McDonald made his first career start.

- DePaul finished with four players in double-figures for the first time this season.

- The meeting was the fourth all-time between the two programs... DePaul has won all four contests.

- Cleveland Melvin recorded his 20th career game of at least 20 points... he has scored at least 20 in two straight games and three of the last four... he extended his streak to 20 straight games in double-figures.

- Melvin's 30 points matched a career-high, matching a 30-point effort against Chicago State on Dec. 10, 2011.

- Donnavan Kirk just missed his first career double-double with a season-high 10 points and nine boards... with four blocked shots against Fairfield, he has totaled nine rejections in the last two games.

- Charles McKinney scored a career-high 11 points... he previously scored 10 on three occasions.

- Moses Morgan played in his 60th career game.

- DePaul improves to 3-0 when winning the rebound battle and also when leading at the half.