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Cully Payne scores 24 in Loyola’s 1st win vs. DePaul since ’89

Updated: January 31, 2013 6:51AM

As an eighth-grader, Schaumburg native Cully Payne ‘‘committed’’ to DePaul, where family friend Jerry Wainwright was coaching in 2005.

On Saturday, wearing the uniform of Red Line rival Loyola, Payne led the way in the Ramblers’ 69-61 comeback victory before 8,020 at Allstate Arena, ending DePaul’s seven-game winning streak and snapping Loyola’s winless streak against the Blue Demons dating to 1989.

‘‘[Payne] controlled the game and gave us problems from the opening tip,’’ DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘He played a whale of a game and was the key to everything they did.’’

Payne, a junior guard, led all scorers with 24 points and had four assists. He also had two steals, the second coming at a crucial moment with less than two minutes left and the Ramblers (9-3) ahead 63-55.

Payne made a three-pointer after the steal to hike the Ramblers’ lead.

DePaul juniors Brandon Young (18 points) and Cleveland Melvin (seven points) each made two free throws in the closing minute, but Payne scored nine of Loyola’s last 10 points over the final two minutes.

‘‘It’s a great win, but it’s another win we can just enjoy for now because we have Valparaiso [on Wednesday],’’ said Payne, who changed his commitment to Iowa, where he played two seasons before transferring last season to Loyola.

‘‘We were down by 10 [in the first half], and we’ve been down by 10 in our last few games, but the guys showed resiliency,’’ Loyola coach Porter Moser said. ‘‘You might have said, ‘Here we go again,’ but it was about continuing to grind it out.’’

The game was tied at 33 at halftime, and Loyola took its first lead with 17:17 left on a three-pointer by Payne.

The Ramblers’ lead grew to 12 with 6:20 left as the Demons (9-4)shot only 34.5 percent from the field in the second half (10-for-29) and went only 8-for-14 from the free-throw line.

‘‘We didn’t come ready to play,’’ Young said. ‘‘We weren’t communicating. We knew it would be a hard game, and Loyola played hard. We just weren’t focused.’’

DePaul had a 34-30 rebounding edge, but the Ramblers had a 17-15 advantage in second-chance points.

‘‘We didn’t do a good job on the boards, and a lot of that had to do with how Payne was driving the ball,’’ Purnell said.

Melvin, DePaul’s leading scorer, was held to single digits to end a streak of 26 consecutive games in double figures. He suffered a cut near his left eye in the first half but continued to play.

‘‘Anytime you can get a win on the road against a team like DePaul, it’s big,’’ said Moser, a Naperville native who grew up a DePaul fan. ‘‘But we have to do it more than once to make it a true rivalry.’’

Loyola last beat DePaul 70-69 on Jan. 21, 1989, at the now-demolished International Amphitheatre, where the Ramblers played their home games that season.

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