DePaul Rings Out 2005 with 72-60 Win Over FIU

The DePaul Blue Demons hung tough and fought off rallies by the Florida International University Golden Panthers in a 72-60 victory at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois today. DePaul closes out the 2005 non-conference schedule at 7-4.

The Blue Demons trailed for the first 13 minutes of the contest until sophomore forward Karron Clarke hit a trifecta to put DePaul up 16-14.

DePaul led throughout the second half until Elvis Lora tied the game at 42-42 with 11 minutes remaining. The Blue Demons then went on a 15-4 run that featured a dunk by freshman forward Wilson Chandler and three pointers from Cliff Clinkscales and Draelon Burns.

FIU looked like a United Nations team as they feature players from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Ivory Coast. The Golden Panthers were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder - Ivan Almonte. Almonte sprained his ankle in a game against Michigan State. In Almonte's absence, two players stepped up to filled the void. Puerto Rican Johwen Villegas scored 24 on eight three pointers. While freshman Elvis Lora left the building with 17 points.

Florida International coach Sergio Rouco woke his team up for a 6 a.m. practice to prepare for the Blue Demons. "I like the fight my guys gave today," said Rouco.

Four players finished in double figures for DePaul. Sammy Mejia finished with 23 points. Wilson Chandler recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Burns contributed with 15 and Clinkscales had 11 including five clutch free throws down the final stretch.

"I'm just trying to stay aggressive, and try to attack the basket to get my guys some open shots," said Clinkscales. "I'm looking to score a little bit more. Draelon and Sammy have been great the last few games. So, there have been big gaps to penetrate and I'm seeing seams and holes that I can get to and make something happen."

"I really thought Cliff gave us a great shot in the arm," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "He's accepted a role. I think it's a really good role for him. He's an energy guy. He loves to play basketball. He's been a terrific leader off the court. To be able to go to the bench right now to play Cliff, and to play Draelon, has really been a plus for our team."

Mejia felt like the 10 day holiday break helped the team recharge their batteries after a long four game road trip. "I felt like the energy was there today," said Mejia. That's what got us the win."


So Long Old Doo - Marcus Heard was sporting a new haircut today as he cut off his trademark braids.

Freshman Rashad Woods did not make the trip to Allstate Arena due to illness.

Rouco is the coach of the Dominican Republic national team. Sammy Mejia could play for that team next summer as a native of the Dominican.

DePaul was without sophomore center Wesley Green again who is out with a foot injury that he suffered in the Wake Forest game. "In one week we'll evaluate again and we'll see where we're at," offered Wainwright. "We'll try to get a definitive answer at that point."

Official Box Score

Jerry Wainwright Postgame Audio

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