DePaul Advances to NIT West Regional

MANHATTAN, Kan. - David Hoskins led all scorers with 24 points and Cartier Martin added 21 in what would prove to be his final collegiate game, but struggles from beyond the arc, at the free-throw line and on the boards haunted Kansas State all night long as DePaul eliminated the Wildcats from the MasterCard NIT, 70-65, before a sell-out crowd of 13,340 Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

Clent Stewart connected on a career-high four 3-pointers also finished in double figures with 15 points for Kansas State (23-12), which ended its season with the third-highest victory total in program history.

Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler scored 18 points each and Draelon Burns chipped in with 17 for DePaul (20-13), which advanced to the NIT West Regional final and will meet Air Force Thursday night in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kansas State led early, but DePaul reeled off 10 straight points and took its first lead of the game midway through the first half. The Blue Demons, who led 38-30 at intermission, never trailed again.

DePaul led by as many as 10 on two occasions during the second half, the last coming after two free throws by Burns with 15:56 to go that put the Blue Demons up 46-36.

K-State would battle back but was unable to make a big push until the four-minute mark when Hoskins scored five in a row and Stewart canned a trey from the top of the key to make it 60-58 DePaul.

The Wildcats again pulled within a bucket with 22 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer from the corner by Martin, but were unable to score again as the Blue Demons hit three of their final four attempts from the free-throw line to put the game out of reach.

Burns connected on the front end of a two-shot foul with 20.5 seconds left, making it 68-65, and DePaul got the ball back when Kansas State's David Hoskins tipped the ball out of bounds.

Chandler hit two free throws with 17.5 seconds left for the game's final points, then took a long pass and dribbled out the clock after Kansas State's last possession ended in a turnover.


DePaul Head Coach Jerry Wainwright

Opening statement...

"First of all – you have to say this because his father is a coach and in coaching circles I think at times some people have been unfair to Coach Huggins. As a coach, and knowing all the other coaches in the NCAA – he is not only a popular guy, but a professional guy. Because he was raised by a coach, he is a coach's coach. What he has done here at the end of the year is truly remarkable. I think they are the most improved team, from day one to the end of the year. Watching their tape early and watching their tape late – how he has embedded his philosophy in kids that he didn't recruit is a true testament to him. All of our players remarked about the building. We go to a lot of places now, and have been to a lot of places this year and I knew this was a tough building when Sammy (Mejia) started speaking Spanish to me. It was a remarkable environment and I think it speaks a real testimony to the NIT because it is not just another tournament anymore. It is selected teams by coaches who are really going all out to win it. I thought every kid laid it on the line out there."

On handling the pressure of the game...

"We tried to duplicate it but obviously you can't. They were very strong and athletic. Their bodies have changed since the time that they have been here, when you get strong and have athletic kids like that you can really cover a lot of ground. They turned it up a notch. There are things that you have to try and do against that and I thought we did those things, but mostly you have to make free throws. Down the stretch I thought Draelon Burns did a great job of stepping to the line and getting us through. If we don't beat their pressure there is a field about eight miles behind here and that is where the team would have ended up because they would have pushed us out the door and got us all the way back there."

Senior Guard Sammy Mejia

On playing in Bramlage...

"It was a great experience for the team. It is funny, some teams get intimidated by a big crowd but we actually get excited about it. Coming into the game we knew that this place was going to be jumping and we were excited about it, we just wanted to make the best of it. We knew that they were a great team with a great coach and were going to make a couple of runs. We always just kind of challenge ourselves to keep the crowd quiet and send them home with a loss. We never get caught up in it, and I think we do a great job of staying poised throughout the game."

Official Box Score

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