Second Half Spurt Propels DePaul to Win

It was the Big East over the Big West at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Friday night as the DePaul Blue Demons pressured their way past the UC Riverside Highlanders to earn a 91-59 victory.

Utilizing Oliver Purnell's patented pressure defense, DePaul (1-0) scored 37 points off of 24 UC Riverside (0-1) turnovers.

The Blue Demons opened the second half on a 22-9 run in the first seven and a half minutes to take a 61-37 lead. DePaul owed it all to their defense which disrupted the Highlanders.

"Defense, Defense, Defense," said junior point guard Brandon Young. "We've got to play defense hard for 40 minutes. We've got to communicate with each other. We've got to talk. As you can see, when we play defense, our offense gets us going and we just keep going off of defense. The only thing we've been stressing is defense."

Purnell wasn't completely pleased with what he saw from his team defensively in the first half, but then witnessed the Blue Demons hit their stride in the second half.

"Once we found our rhythm, I thought our on ball defense was really good," said Purnell. "We rebounded it good. The pressure is there and it gives you a flurry our two and that's the recipe."

Young led all scorers with 20 points and dished out five assists on the night. Junior forward Cleveland Melvin added 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and stole the ball five times.

With the game well in hand, everyone got an opportunity to play in this one. In all, 15 players made appearances for the Blue Demons. DePaul got a 33 point contribution from their bench in the contest, including eight points from senior guard Worrell Clahar, seven from freshman Durrell McDonald, and four points and seven rebounds from sophomore Derrell Robertson.

DePaul also did a good job of keeping Riverside's big men from scoring in the paint. The Highlanders were led by guards Josh Fox (17 points) and Austin Quick (15 points).

On Thursday night, the Blue Demons begin the first of four games that comprise the Cancun Challenge. The first two will be at Allstate Arena, while the final two games will be played in Cancun, Mexico. DePaul takes on Gardner-Webb at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

Box Score


• DePaul is 79-11 all-time in season openers

• The Blue Demons have won five straight first games

• DePaul is now 7-1 all-time at McGrath-Phillips Arena

• Three-point streak extended to 580 straight games... last game without a three was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena

• Oliver Purnell started his 25th season as a head coach... it is his third season at DePaul

• The DePaul bench outscored the UCR bench by a 33-10 margin… DePaul also added 37 points off 24 Highlander turnovers

• Derrell Robertson Jr. grabbed a career-best seven boards… his previous career-high was five at St. John's on Feb. 20, 2012

• With 16 points, Melvin reached double-figures for the 49th time in his career

• It was Brandon Young's 45th career game in double-figures… he also reached at least 20 points for the 14th time in his career

• Stuart Pirri, Jodan Price, Durrell McDonald, and Montray Clemons all registered their first career points in a Blue Demon uniform

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