Winning one on the road meant a lot to DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "I think it was big for us to get our first road win with a young team," said Wainwright. "It is really a critical win for us. We have been in a lot of games this year on the road, but we lost one at Northern (Illinois). Then we were tied with a minute to go against Bucknell and they hit a big shot to put us behind the eight ball. We need to win. Taking somebody's best shot, especially in an arena like this. It will mean a lot to our kids, especially our young players. We have Wake (Forest), Old Dominion and Cal in the next three games so it was important for us to get started."
Dayton led 28-27 at halftime, but DePaul managed to get a run going in the second half. "One difference was that we were able to get running a little bit," observed Wainwright. "I thought we stopped running in the first half and it turned into a bit of a grinder. After halftime we got some really good looks in transition. We scored on some 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s, which kind of gave us some cushion."
Wainwright was more than familiar with Brian Gregory's Dayton teams having played them five times previously while the coach at Richmond. "One thing that really helped us was that we didn't have a lot of time leading up to the game and we had a really good handle on their personnel," remarked Wainwright. "Brian Roberts is a really good kid and they have really good players. They have had some really good wins as they beat Cincinnati."
"Coming into this game, a lot of our players have been part of Dayton games in the past," Wainwright said. "They played against Dayton in the NCAAs a couple of years ago and up at our place when the series began last season. I think it was a good win for us and it was a lot like a conference game for us."
"The crowd was incredible and Dayton is an NCAA type team," said Mejia. "I am sure they will be in there at the end of the year. It is a big win for us, especially on the road."
Mejia finished with a season high 23 points to lead the way for DePaul. "He is a streaky shooter, but I think the big thing for us was running in transition," Wainwright stated. "That really opened up his shot and gave him some good looks at the basket."
"I just tried to stay aggressive," Mejia related. "My biggest concern was to not stay back on my heels, just because I missed some shots. Sometimes the best thing is to sit down for 15 minutes at halftime and just try to come out as aggressive as I was in the first half."
"We struggled guarding (Mejia) off the dribble, we had three different guys try to guard him," said Flyers coach Brian Gregory. "And you know, he's their upperclassman who has been through the wars and the battles, and he stepped up big tonight, you know obviously played his best game of the year when they needed it most."
The Blue Demons held Dayton to 17.6% shooting from beyond the three point line. "We just tried to take away the perimeter and make your big guys beat us," Mejia observed. "Our big guys did a good job of keeping their arms straight up and making them take shots over us."
Freshman forward Wilson Chandler led the way on the boards for DePaul with a career high 16 rebounds. "We're just as big as they are so I don't think size played that much into it," Gregory remarked. "We weren't physical enough and we didn't play a physical game. We didn't cut out, we let guys fly to the glass. We didn't wedge out inside and you play a team that's on the road and I think that they were disappointed in a couple of the games that they played so they went out hungry, especially in the second half, and that was the difference in the game."
Official Box Score
DePaul 61 Dayton 54 – Postgame Report
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