On senior day, Sammy Mejia paced the Blue Demons with a 26 point, eight rebound, five assist effort while holding South Florida's leading scorer Melvin Buckley scoreless. Kentrell Gransberry had 26 points and 23 rebounds in the losing effort for South Florida.
The game was controlled by DePaul right away as they got off to a quick 6-0 lead and never looked back. The Blue Demons shot well in the first half as they shot 42% from the field, and went 6-13 beyond the arc. The Blue Demons took a 36-25 lead into halftime and were never seriously challenged for the lead. "There was a lot of emotion out there," said Mejia after the game. "But, we came out pretty strong." Mejia, one of four DePaul seniors playing in their final home game displayed the kind of versatility that he has brought DePaul's team the last four seasons.
Although Mejia had a big game statistically with 26 points, eight rebound, and five assists, he was also happy with stopping South Florida's Melvin Buckley. "Even though Gransberry had 26, we held Buckley to zero," said Mejia. "If that's what it takes to win, then I'll take it."
Coach Jerry Wainwright was also happy with the effort displayed by his team. "The South Florida coaches do a great job with Gransberry," said Wainwright. "We struggled to guard him. But we felt that Sammy was a good match up on Melvin Buckley, and Wilson Chandler and Marcus Heard were a good match up with McHugh Mattis." The matchups paid off as Mattis was also held to three points, which is well below his season average.
DePaul also forced 18 USF turnovers which led to 23 DePaul points. Although DePaul led by double digits for most of the game, their offense occasionally stalled and let South Florida hang around. "We started well, and then we hit some walls," remarked Wainwright. "I think it was the kids trying to soak everything in to be honest."
DePaul's senior frontcourt of Keith Butler, Lorenzo Thompson, and Marcus Heard all played their final home game as well. "It was tough knowing it was the last game," said senior Marcus Heard. "But we had to go out there and focus like it was every other game." Heard finished with six points and nine rebounds. Butler contributed two points, and two blocks while Lorenzo Thompson finished with three points, three rebounds and two blocks.
As time was winding down, and DePaul held a big lead, Wainwright subbed out his four seniors to a standing ovation. "He told us how proud he was of us," said Mejia.
"I think that their best ball is ahead of them next week," said Wainwright of his team.
With a Pittsburgh win at Marquette tonight, the Blue Demons could secure the sixth seed in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. When asked how many wins DePaul needs in the tournament, Mejia & Heard responded in unison, "All of them!"
Although the Big East tournament looms, Mejia and company are confident as they go to New York. As Sammy Mejia was asked the potential of this team for the rest of the season, he smiled and simply said, "The sky is the limit for us."
Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information
The Blue Demons conclude the regular season 18-12 overall and 9-7 in the BIG EAST. DePaul posted a 13-2 (.866) record at the Allstate Arena; its best home record (by percentage) since the 1991-92 squad went 10-1 (.909).
Sammy Mejia finished the game with 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists. It marks his 20th double-figure scoring effort of the season and the 67th of his career. It is also his 11th game this season leading DePaul in scoring.
Mejia's game-leading five assists moved him to sixth all-time at DePaul with 391 career assists. He also moved to ninth all-time in three-point field goals with 110, and seventh all-time in three-point attempts with 340.
Marcus Heard tied his career-high of nine rebounds.
Draelon Burns scored 11 points for his 17th double-figure scoring effort of the season.
DePaul now leads the all-time series with USF 14-4. The Blue Demons have won their last five meetings with the Bulls.
Official Box Score
DePaul Ends Regular Season with Win Over USF
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