DePaul Presses NIU 75-52

The Blue Demons ratcheted up their full court press in the second half to walk away from DeKalb, Illinois with a 75-52 win over the NIU Huskies.

DePaul (7-3) matched last season's win total by disrupting Northern Illinois (0-9) and wearing them down with their press in the second half.

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell compared his defense to one you'd see on the gridiron.

"It's kind of like blitzing in football," said Purnell. "It may not work early, but it gets you sooner or later."

NIU coach Mark Montgomery agreed.

"Their style of play wears you down," said Montgomery. "They're a pretty good team."

Wear it down it did as the Blue Demons went on a 17-0 run in the second half.

"I was pleased with our second half and our pressure defense in the second half that led to a lot of easy buckets for us and got us going offensively," added Purnell.

NIU managed to dictate the tempo in the first half and only trailed 28-25 at intermission.

Purnell challenged his team leaders in the locker room at halftime.

"Coach Purnell told us at halftime we were not aggressive enough on defense," said sophomore point guard Brandon Young. "He looked at me and Jeremiah and said we got to step up as leaders."

Young received the Jay Goedert Memorial Award as the game's most valuable player after scoring 16 points, dishing out five assists, and grabbing four steals.

"I feel good," Young said after receiving the award. "I'm not going to let that stop me. I'm going to keep working hard and doing whatever I need to do to make me and my teammates better."

DePaul sophomore Cleveland Melvin led all scorers with 19 points. Senior guard Jeremiah Kelly contributed with 15 points and Moses Morgan came in off the bench to add 11 points.

With seven wins, the Blue Demons now have as many as they did in Purnell's first season at DePaul. He sees improvement in this second year.

"I think the arrow is pointing up," said Purnell. "Clearly, we came into the year with expectations that we're going to get better and improve. I think we clearly are better."

Tim Toler led the way for NIU with a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Blue Demons return to McGrath-Phillips Arena for a Saturday night matchup with Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Box Score

Notes:

- DePaul center Donnavan Kirk returned to the lineup tonight. Kirk played seven minutes and gathered two rebounds.


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