Mejia Leads DePaul in Upset Over No. 16 Wake

DePaul junior guard Sammy Mejia lead the DePaul Blue Demons to victory on the basketball court over the 16th ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, NC tonight. Mejia, who scored 24 points, struck Wake Forest with a dagger as he hit a jumper to put DePaul up 82-78 with 13 seconds remaining in the game and the shot clock winding down.

The 84-81 Blue Demon win ended Wake Forest's 21 game home court winning streak and 28 game consecutive home win streak over non-conference opponents. "I don't think this game was that mysterious," said Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser. "I give credit to DePaul. I thought they did a great job isolating us. I think the tone of the game was set in the first several possessions where they scored at will. We gave up 84 points and I give DePaul credit because they did what they wanted to do."

"I think that the team had a hard time generating some of its own energy," Prosser observed. "I give DePaul credit and they set the tone early in the game. Not to take away from what DePaul did, I think they actually took away our energy. I think that our inability to stop them defensively took away from our energy and our ability to score offensively."

Karron Clarke injured his right ankle in practice on Monday night and did not dress for tonight's game. Draelon Burns started in Clarke's place as DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright went with a smaller three guard lineup. Senior center Marlon Brumfield also reinjured his ankle in practice, yet contributed valuable minutes in the second half as centers Wesley Green and Lorenzo Thompson sat on the bench in foul trouble.

"This is a great example of the rule that always is about basketball, especially college basketball, it's not who you play, but it's when you play them," said Wainwright. "We lost two kids last night. My starting forward sprained his ankle at 9:50 in practice. My starting center reaggravated his at 9:55. We had mixed emotions as we walked out the building, but I thought our kids rallied."

Wake Forest went to their big man Eric Williams inside early and often as he scored the first 10 points of the game for the Demon Deacons. The first half was close throughout. DePaul went on a four point run to close out the half with buckets by Cliff Clinkscales and Jabari Currie to lead 44-40 at intermission. Leading scorers at the half were sophomore guard Draelon Burns with 14 for DePaul and Williams for Wake with 13 points.

In the second half, DePaul went with a hack-a-Williams strategy that was successful as Williams went to the charity stripe 14 times, but only hit six free throws.

DePaul took the lead five minutes into the second half on a seven point run that featured a Cliff Clinkscales skip pass to an open Jabari Currie for three. The Blue Demons never trailed again. Wake charged back in the closing minutes with a seven point run to pull within 80-78 on a Michael Drum three pointer. That was when Mejia sealed the victory with his jump shot.

DePaul was successful limiting Wake's perimeter game as Mejia held Justin Gray to 12 points. "The only thing I would say is that when you play Wake, you have to pick your poison," Wainwright remarked. "We tried to close the perimeter down and left our post on an island. It's no fun being on an island with Eric Williams. He's going to push you into the ocean. He's a terrific player. I told him before the game I was so proud of the way he's developed his body and his stamina."

Wake Forest had four players averaging in double figures in scoring. Tonight it was DePaul that also had four in double figures. Burns added a career high 22 points. Blue Demons center Wesley Green, the son of Wake Forest great Kenny Green, also had a career high with 13. Freshman point guard Jabari Currie chimed in with 12.

DePaul won the battle of the glass as they out-rebounded Wake 38-30 in the game. It was the first time Wake was out-rebounded since last year's ACC tournament. Wake was never out-rebounded by more than three boards all of last season.

"They're (Wake Forest) going to have a terrific year, and obviously this is a great confidence builder for our program," Wainwright said. "We were facing four straight road games. Dayton, Wake, we're at Old Dominion Saturday, and we have to go to California next week. We really have played a difficult schedule and been in a lot of close games. We've taken everybody's best shot, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Our kids have toughened up and are starting to learn how to play together."

Notes:

This was DePaul's first victory over a top 20 team since February 25, 2004 when they won at Louisville in overtime.

Clarke's status for Saturday's game versus Old Dominion remains uncertain. "His ankle is really not swollen, but we have to get it evaluated, both he and Marlon," said Wainwright.

The game was not a sellout and there wasn't much of a student presence as the Wake Forest students are on winter break.

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