Mejia Leads DePaul to 89-81 Win at Rhody

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- Sammy Mejia celebrated his 100th game in a DePaul uniform by scoring 22 points to help the Blue Demons to an 89-81 victory over Rhode Island Saturday.

DePaul (6-5) built a double-digit lead early in the first half, and Sammy Mejia helped keep it that way. Three times in the second half, Rhode Island cut the deficit to single digits only to have Mejia hit a shot to put DePaul's lead back to 11 or more.

Rhode Island's Jimmy Baron made it 52-43 with a 3-pointer with 15:27 to play. It was the first time Rhode Island (6-5) had the deficit in single digits since it was 15-7 in the first half.

But Mejia quickly gave DePaul a 55-43 lead with a 3-pointer.

Rhode Island cut it to 63-55 with Will Daniels' basket only to have Mejia hit another 3-pointer, this one with two Rhode Island players in his face as the shot clock expired. That made it 66-55 with 8:21 left.

Lamonte Ulmer pulled Rhode Island to 68-59 with a pair of free throws, but Mejia scored back-to-back baskets, the second on an alley-oop from Wilson Chandler that made it 72-59.

Chandler finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Karron Clarke chipped in with 13 points for DePaul and Marcus Heard added 10.

Daniels finished with 22 points for Rhode Island and Baron finished with 17.

DePaul made 13 of the first 16 shots it took in the game. That accuracy helped DePaul build a lead as large as 42-23 after a 3-pointer from Heard with 3:36 to play.

For the game, DePaul shot 66.7%, on 34-of-51 from the field. They were 8-of-16 from the arc and outscored URI, 40-18, in the paint.

As hot as DePaul was in the first half, Rhode Island was cold, missing nine of its first 10 shots from the floor. Rhode Island was 3-for-23 from the field at one point.

"We knew that DePaul is one of the most talented teams in the Big East and that they presented some problems." head coach Jim Baron explained. "Wilson Chandler, Sammy Meija, they're exceptional players. They're talented and well-coached and can score inside and outside."

"They jumped out at us early and we dug ourselves in a hole." Baron said. "I was disappointed in the way we defended and then we struggled on the offensive end. We tried to fight back in the second half, cut it to eight, but they hit some big shots."

Daniels saw some positives in his team's performance.

"We have goals - big goals - and we're looking to do big things." the junior forward explained. "In order for us to get where we want to go, we need to play teams like DePaul and Providence from the Big East. We need to take on Boston College in the ACC and try to establish ourselves. Our team didn't back down from those games and it can only help us as we move into conference play."

Game Notes

The victory was DePaul's first road win of the season… the Blue Demons improved to 6-5, the first time this season DePaul has been over .500… today was also DePaul's final non-conference road game of the season… Mejia moved into 27th place on DePaul's all-time scoring list with 1,174 points, passing Lance Williams.

URI Notes: The 100th Anniversary Team was honored at halftime of this afternoon's game. Steve Chubin, Carlton "Silk" Owens, and Tom Garrick were in attendance...Junior Jon Lucky was not present at the game. The guard was seeing a doctor back home in Connecticut, for treatment of his ankle injury. He will be re-evaluated early this week as to what the next step in his treatment will be...Rhody grabbed 16 offensive rebounds - the eighth time that they're reached double digits in that category this season...Everyone in the URI lineup that played at least 15 minutes scored at least two points and grabbed one rebound...For the second straight game, the Rams were in the single digits in the turnover column, with just nine.

Official Box Score

Jerry Wainwright and Mejia Postgame Audio

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