DePaul's Purnell Gets Win No. 400

The Blue Demons got coach Oliver Purnell his 400th career win as they prevailed 71-62 over Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena.

Purnell was glad to have reached the milestone.

"I'm relieved to have it behind me, sometimes you can get stuck on that number," Purnell said. "I didn't want that burden for our players. I didn't mention it to them until five minutes before the game. I said that the game means a lot to me personally and I would love for them to be a major part of tonight, and to get that 400th win going into the holidays would be a great Christmas present for me. Also, it would allow our team to finish on an uptick coming out of non-conference play going into the Big East."

With the victory, Purnell's career record over 23 seasons is now 400-282.

"It means a lot, we came out with a lot of energy and attitude and came out with the victory," said Cleveland Melvin who led all scorers with 23 points.

The win brought DePaul (6-6) to .500 in non-conference play and was the fifth straight win for the Blue Demons at Allstate Arena.

DePaul took a 8-7 lead on Florida Atlantic (8-6) on a Cleveland Melvin jumper with 16:40 left in the first half and never trailed again.

FAU did manage to pull within three with 1:49 to play in the second half, but DePaul prevailed by going eight for eight from the free throw line down the final stretch. Melvin owned the paint against the Owls and repeatedly attacked the basket.

"We've been talking about being an attacking team. I think we're evolving into that," said Purnell. "All of those guys are making themselves a threat to attack every time they catch the ball."

DePaul had three players finish in double-figures. Senior Jimmy Drew came off the bench to contribute 13 points. Sophomore Tony Freeland also provided a spark off the bench with 12 points.

Greg Gantt led the way for the Owls with 20 points. Dennis Mavin came off the bench to score 12 points and Raymond Tucker scored 11 points in the losing effort for FAU.

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