Sammy Mejia's 27 points in the first half helped DePaul maintain a 46-42 halftime lead over Northwestern State (5-6). It was a half where NSU led by as many as eight points with 13:28 remaining. DePaul took the lead behind a six point run by Mejia towards the end of the first half. Sammy shot a career high five trifectas and finished 17 of 24 from the field.
"Mejia had an unbelievable game," said NSU coach Mike McConathy. "I mean what can you say?"
"Things were clicking," said Mejia. "The ball was coming to me. Guys weren't helping as much off of their man to double me when I made moves."
Mejia became the first player that Jerry Wainwright has had to score 40 points. "He's really been working hard on his intermediate game and I think it's starting to show," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright.
Sammy had plenty of help from his teammates, especially junior point guard Cliff Clinkscales. Clinkscales, who only played three minutes in the previous game against Cal, dished out nine assists in 21 minutes. "I thought the unsung hero of the game was Cliff Clinkscales," said Wainwright. "He had nine assists and no turnovers. He's worked really hard in practice. I think it takes an exceptional kid to stay focused and not hang his head."
Clinkscales looked to Mejia often. "You always look for the guy with the hot hand," said Clinkscales. "They call it milking the cow. You milk him for whatever he's got."
"I got to give most of the credit to my teammates, especially Cliff," said Mejia. "They look out for me and they try to get me in position to score."
It wasn't the first time that Clinkscales witnessed a Mejia eruption. He once saw Sammy rack up 65 points in high school. "I said ‘who's this kid?'," Clinkscales related.
It wasn't just the Sammy Mejia show for the Blue Demons, sophomore forward Wilson Chandler contributed with 13 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Draelon Burns chipped in with 13 points coming off the bench.
Jermaine Spencer and Gerrell Thomas led the way for NSU with 10 points each. NSU was demoralized when Spencer re-injured his Achilles tendon towards the end of the first half. "He had been out for three and a half weeks," said McConathy. "He's kind of our energy guy. I don't know if it's because he went down, we didn't play, we didn't compete."
McConathy credited the Blue Demons on the win. "You can't take anything away from what DePaul did tonight. They could have beat a whole bunch of folks tonight the way they shot the ball"
DePaul scored 16 points on fast breaks, Wainwright credited junior center Wesley Green with helping lead the break. "Wesley Green is one of the best outlet passers, I've ever coached. He had eight defensive rebounds. Every time he gets the ball in his hands on a defensive rebound, we've got a chance to use our speed."
The Blue Demons have been a second half team throughout the month. In their last two games, DePaul has outscored their opponents 108-51 in the second half. DePaul's dominance late in games is no doubt due to their bench play. Wainwright mentioned that the second unit had been outplaying the first team in practice. "When you play that many guys and you play effectively, I think it wears other teams down," Wainwright remarked.
DePaul held NSU to 37.1% shooting from the field. For the fifth straight game, the Blue Demons have held their opponent under 40% shooting from the field.
The Blue Demons wrap up the non-conference season at 9-5. After struggling on the road in November, DePaul went 7-1 in the month of December. They now prepare for open of Big East conference play against St. John's in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information
DePaul scored a season-high 97 points.
DePaul outscored Northwestern State 51-25 in the second half. Over the last two games, DePaul has outscored its opponents 108-51 in the second half.
DePaul held Northwestern State to .371 shooting from the field. Kansas was the only DePaul opponent to shoot over .400 from the field in the month of December.
DePaul finished the month of December with a 7-1 record. It is the Blue Demons' best December record since the 1992-93 squad went 6-1 in the final month of 1992.
The Blue Demons have won nine straight games at the Allstate Arena in a streak dating back to a victory over Seton Hall on February 25, 2006.
Sammy Mejia scored a career-high 40 points and became the eighth player in DePaul history to score 40+ points in a game. The last was David Booth with 40 points vs. UCLA on December 15, 1990.
Mejia made 11 of 13 field goal attempts and five of six three-point attempts in the first half… Mejia made a career-high five three-pointers and finished 17 of 24 from the field.
With 27 points and two assists, Mejia played a role in 13 of DePaul's 19 first-half field goals.
Wesley Green grabbed a career-high eight rebounds, all of which were defensive.
Wilson Chandler scored 13 points. He has scored in double figures in all 14 games this season… Thijin Moses' missed three-pointer in the final two-minutes of the game broke a personal streak of seven consecutive three-pointers made.
Official Box Score
Mejia Rings Out 2006 For DePaul with 40
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