Mejia's 2nd Half Leads DePaul Past Cal-Irvine

Senior guard Sammy Mejia came up with a strong second half effort to lead DePaul to a 65-53 victory over the Anteaters of California-Irvine. Mejia racked up a career high 14 rebounds and scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half to lead all scorers.

For a guard to get that many rebounds, Sammy Mejia had to be using stealth technology. "I'm kind of a sneaky guy who's always running around the basket," said Mejia. "Being that I have a height advantage over most the guys at my position. I just try to put myself into a position to get the rebound."

"He's one of those sneaky kind of rebounders," said DePaul basketball coach Jerry Wainwright. "He's a throwback kind of guy. He really understands basketball, so he goes to places where the ball is going to be. He's got long arms. He's got really good hands. The thing with him is he had no turnovers. He's been the way a senior should be."

Sophomore forward Wilson Chandler scored 14 points at Allstate Arena. Chandler struggled with his shot due to a bandage on his hand and ended up going five of 14 from the field. "He cut his hand on the rim a couple of games ago," Wainwright related. "He jammed it pretty hard. We've been experimenting with different pads. It's obviously uncomfortable for him."

Draelon Burns also finished in double figures with 10 points off the bench. Burns has been dubbed "the Microwave" by some for his similarity to former Detroit Pistons sixth man Vinnie Johnson. Burns though isn't exactly thrilled with the nickname. "Some people say it, but I don't pretty much like it," said Burns.

"I almost started him," Wainwright said. " Draelon played really well against Wake Forest. I just always feel good when I've got him on the bench. It's like carrying an extra battery in your car. He's got a great temperament for coming off the bench. He's fearless."

For the Anteaters Nic Campbell and Mark Kelley led the way with 10 points apiece.

UC-Irvine coach Pat Douglass was not pleased with his team's effort. "I was disappointed with our performance. I thought we could have executed better. I don't know if kids were thinking about an early Christmas or what it was tonight."

DePaul's team has been battling the stomach flu all week. "Wilson (Chandler), Marcus (Heard), Draelon (Burns), and Sammy (Mejia) have really been fighting a bug here," Wainwright shared. "I really applaude the fact that those kids showed up. They weren't 100 percent, but I thought they played well."

For the third straight game, the Blue Demons have held their opponent under 40% shooting from the field. "The main thing we've been focusing on the last couple weeks was our defensive effort," said Mejia. "As long as we can control the other team on the defensive end, we'll always be in a position to win."

The Blue Demons (7-5) have now won five of their last six games as they head into a duel with the California Golden Bears at Allstate Arena on Saturday where DePaul has been undefeated this season.

Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information

DePaul has won seven straight home games in a streak dating back to last season… tonight was the first-ever meeting between the Blue Demons and UC Irvine… Sammy Mejia led DePaul with 15 points and a career-high 14 rebounds and it was his second straight double-double at home… Mejia's one steal is the 100th of his career, joining him with Terrence Greene (1985-89) and Tom Kleinschmidt (1991-95) as the only players in DePaul history to have 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals in a Blue Demon uniform… Wilson Chandler scored 14 points and has scored in double figures in all 12 games this season.

Official Box Score

Postgame Audio

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