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DePaul men’s basketball has a Cancun Challenge blackout

Updated: December 19, 2012 1:07PM



The Cancun Challenge is turning into anything but a vacation for DePaul.

The Blue Demons opened the tournament Thursday at Allstate Arena with one of their poorest showings in coach Oliver Purnell’s tenure, falling 71-59 to Gardner-Webb in a game they never led.

The visiting Running Bulldogs (2-2), playing their second game in as many days, outplayed the Blue Demons from start to finish, building a 19-point lead late in the second half.

Gardner-Webb sophomore guard Max Landis led all scorers with 20 points, while senior Kevin Hartley added 16 points, shooting 4-for-7 from three-point range.

DePaul junior Cleveland Melvin had 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, but committed five turnovers.

The Demons (1-1) made only 2 of 13 three-point attempts and 11 of 18 free throws, while committing 12 turnovers.

Gardner-Webb outrebounded DePaul 44-31, and scored 14 points off turnovers and had 11 second-chance points.

‘‘My hat goes off to Gardner-Webb,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘They deserved to win. They played last night and traveled, and got the job done, but clearly we didn’t show up tonight.

“No matter what the ­circumstances, we had a ball game and we have to be mentally tougher. We never sustained any level of consistency.’’

DePaul trailed by 11 in the first half, missing all nine of its three-point attempts.

The Demons’ 34-24 deficit at intermission marked their lowest scoring first half since posting 24 on Feb. 15 against UConn.

Purnell turned to walk-on freshman Peter Ryckbosch for three minutes of the first half, while freshman guard Durrell McDonald played seven minutes, scoring four points with two assists and two steals.

‘‘I can’t look at any phase of the game [positively], and that includes coaching,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘I was searching for combinations and couldn’t find them.’’



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