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Melvin Leads DePaul to Seventh Straight Win
The Blue Demons posted their seventh straight win on Saturday at Allstate Arena.


The Blue Demons posted their seventh straight win on Saturday at Allstate Arena.

Dec. 22, 2012

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – When Oliver Purnell was asked what he wanted for Christmas, the DePaul men’s basketball coach looked up and said: “I got it—a win.”

With that, Purnell and his Blue Demons departed for Christmas break after a 69-61 victory over UMBC (Maryland-Baltimore County) Saturday at Allstate Arena.

It was the seventh win in a row for DePaul (9-3), the longest winning streak since the 1993-94 team won nine straight.

Cleveland Melvin led the way with a game-high 24 points while also leading all rebounders with eight. Jamee Crockett contributed 11 points and six boards while Worrell Clahar finished with 10 points, five assists and four steals.

Maryland-Baltimore County was within 59-53 with three minutes, 52 seconds on the clock when Clahar converted two foul shots. Melvin followed with two of his own for a 63-53 lead.

A Ryan Cook (15 points) three-pointer brought UMBC within 64-58 with 2:20 left. Melvin’s free throw followed by a layup provided a 67-58 lead in the final minute.

"I looked at this like any other game---come out, play well and get the win,” said Melvin who is from Baltimore. “We didn’t put this team away because we weren’t executing and moving the ball around against the zone defense.

“We were putting up shots and not rebounding. We have to learn to do a better job of moving the ball and making plays against the zone.”

The zone strategy from UMBC (2-10) disrupted the flow of the Blue Demon offense. When the home team was able to free up open looks, the shots weren’t falling.

In addition, DePaul was plagued by turnovers and UMBC defensive deflections that prevented the attack from operating smoothly.

“This wasn’t one of our better performances, and we were settling for too many outside shots,” Purnell said. “Getting the ball inside against the zone in the second half was the difference in the game.

"UMBC was pretty effective playing sort of an amoeba zone. I thought we could shred it by getting the ball inside, but we weren’t patient enough. We did that in the second half and it paid dividends.”

Melvin scored the first five DePaul points of the second half including a two-hand slam courtesy of a Clahar pass in accounting for a 43-32 lead. The Retrievers responded with an 11-4 run and sliced the Blue Demon lead to 47-43.

Moses Morgan retaliated with a three-point play and Brandon Young followed with a pair of free throws. Another Melvin dunk off a Young pass made it 54-43.

Back came the team from Baltimore with two scores. A pair of Donnavan Kirk free throws and a Melvin layup restored a 10-point lead with less than six minutes to go.

“Clearly, he’s a big factor for us,” Purnell said about Melvin. “He was turning the ball over too many times and forcing it early. We’re trying to get him to be more patient. He’s going to face a lot of double-team defenses and guys sagging off to help.”

It wasn’t exactly a rousing start as the Blue Demons made just five of their first 14 shots and five of the first nine free throws. Durrell McDonald had the lone DePaul three-pointer midway through the first half.

Towards the end of the first half, the Blue Demons went on a 10-2 spurt in moving out front 33-25. The Retrievers came within 35-30 on a pair of Cook free throws, but Young answered with a three-pointer to give his team a 38-30 halftime lead.

Melvin is ready for a little holiday cheer.

“I get to go home, and it will be nice to see my family,” Melvin said. “I’ll enjoy the break. But we come back on Dec. 26th and start taking care of business again.”

DePaul returns to Allstate Arena next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game against North Side rival Loyola that closes out the nonconference portion of the schedule.

Team Records and Series Notes:

• DePaul improves to 9-3 overall on the season... UMBC falls to 2-10.

• The game was the first meeting between the two programs.

• DePaul improved to 12-0 all-time against the current America East Conference lineup.

DePaul Team Notes:

• DePaul extended its win streak to seven straight... it is the longest streak since a nine-game run from Dec. 7, 1993-Jan. 8, 1994.

• The Blue Demons improved to 6-1 at home this season... a year ago, DePaul won seven home games in the entire season.

• DePaul’s consecutive free throw steak ended at 11 in-a-row.

DePaul Individual Notes:

Cleveland Melvin reached double-figures for the 26th straight game... playing in his 70th career game Saturday, he has scored at least 10 points in 60 career games.

• Melvin passed Jim Murphy (1962-65) and moved into 34th place on DePaul’s all-time scoring chart.

• Brandon Young’s 83rd career three-pointer at end of the first half moved him into a tie for 18th on the three-point field goal list with Quemont Greer (2001-05) and Terry Davis (1989-93).

Jamee Crockett scored in double-figures for the third time in the last four games