Melvin's Big Game Leads DePaul Past Houston Baptist
Dec. 18, 2013
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Cleveland Melvin recognized the mismatch right from the start, and the 6-foot, 8-inch senior made the most of it Wednesday night.
Melvin scored a season high 28 points and added 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in leading DePaul to a resounding 78-58 victory over Houston Baptist at Allstate Arena.
"Coach (Oliver Purnell) told us to come out aggressive from start, and that's what I did right to the end," Melvin said. "I saw the mismatch at my position and I was calling for the ball.
"Billy (Garrett Jr.), Brandon Young (11 points) and Tommy (Hamilton IV) kept looking for me and got me the ball in the right spot."
Hamilton (14 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals) scored the first five DePaul points of the second half, and fellow freshman Garrett added two free throws for a 40-29 lead despite Garrett and Young combining to hit three of their first 18 shots.
A Melvin score in the paint midway through the second half put DePaul ahead by 11. Hamilton's pair of foul shots increased the gap to 13. An 18-4 run that culminated with 1:40 left in the game resulted in a 78-49 lead with Melvin, 6-10 Forrest Robinson and DeJuan Marrero leading the way.
"This was one of our better second halves of the season and gives us something to build on going to Illinois State on Sunday," said Purnell as DePaul improved to 7-4. "Offensively, we were spot-on attacking the Houston Baptist zone. When they went man-to-man, we consistently got the ball inside.
"I thought we played with much more energy in the second half. We got six or seven defensive stops in a row and were able to break the game open."
Purnell was certainly happy with Melvin's performance.
"This was one of Cleve's best games here," Purnell said. "Whether he was at the four (power forward) or the three (small forward), he anchored himself well in there and posted inside against the zone. He didn't force things and was pretty dominant for us."
A sluggish beginning had DePaul trailing by one midway through the first half. Cody Joyce (14 points) scored six of Houston Baptist's first 15 points.
Melvin's three-point shot, three-point play and an energizing steal and dunk by Charles McKinney launched the Blue Demons on a 12-2 run to secure a 26-17 lead. Several plays later, another Melvin basket gave DePaul its first double-digit margin at 28-18.
The Huskies came back to outscore their hosts 9-3, and a Rob Lewis three-pointer brought Houston Baptist (3-8) within 31-27.
Back came Melvin with a pair of free throws as DePaul went into halftime with a 33-27 lead. In the first 20 minutes, Melvin led both teams with 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Blue Demon victory came on the 100th birthday of legendary coach Ray Meyer who passed away in March of 2006 at the age of 92.
"It is an honor to win a game on the birthday of such a great, great coach," Purnell said. "Every time we win a game, it's another milestone in DePaul basketball history. That speaks to the great tradition we have here.
"There is no better coach at DePaul than Ray Meyer."
DePaul hits the road for the next four games, beginning with a 3:35 p.m. tipoff Sunday at Illinois State. That's followed by matchups at Northwestern on Dec. 27, at Georgetown on New Year's Eve in the BIG EAST Conference opener and at Marquette on Jan. 4.
Notes: DePaul improves to 1-0 all-time against Houston Baptist in the schools' first-ever meeting... the Blue Demons are now 8-0 against the current Southland Conference lineup... DePaul is now on a season-high three-game win streak... Sandi Marcius blocked a career-high three shots... Melvin recorded a season-high 28 points... Melvin recorded the 17th double-double of his career and finished in double figures for the 84th time in his career... the Blue Demons committed just nine turnovers, their second-fewest of the season... December 18, 2013 would have been the 100th birthday of legendary DePaul coach Ray Meyer...