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DePaul seniors get it done in win over Milwaukee

DePaul forward ClevelMelv(12) reacts after he scored three-point-shot during first half an NCAA college basketball game against Southern Mississippi Rosemont

DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin (12) reacts after he scored a three-point-shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Southern Mississippi in Rosemont, Ill., Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: November 19, 2013 11:02PM

MILWAUKEE — DePaul coach Oliver Purnell knew his team’s first road game would be a challenge Tuesday against a Milwaukee team on a four-game win streak.

For a second straight game, the Blue Demons answered the challenge with a strong second half, building a lead of as many as 14 points en route to an 80-71 victory at U.S. Cellular Arena.

‘‘This was a real solid road win for us,’’ said Purnell, who again saw his seniors lead the way in the final 20 minutes.

Cleveland Melvin (20 points, nine rebounds) and Brandon Young (19 points, seven rebounds, six assists) were the leaders as the Demons (3-1) pulled away from the Panthers (4-2) after a 32-32 halftime tie.

Young hit a field goal and Melvin a three-pointer in the opening two minutes of the second half, and DePaul never trailed again.

‘‘We wanted to hit them first and get the momentum going,’’ Young said.

DePaul broke out on an 11-0 run in the second half, had three key steals and closed by hitting eight of its last 11 free throws.

Melvin and Young combined for 33 of the team’s 61 shot attempts, with Melvin hitting four of six three-point attempts.

‘‘You have to have that senior leadership to win these games,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘They understand things will happen in a game. For them to have the correct body language and say the right things gives their team confidence — and the ability to knock down shots matters, too.’’

The Panthers were playing their fourth game in five days after winning three over the weekend in the NIU Invitational in DeKalb.

‘‘We asked these young men to do something very difficult in playing so many games in a short turnaround,’’ Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said. ``We got tired about the 10-minutes mark, and you could see it.

``Melvin and Young made some big-time plays, but I told our young men not to be discouraged. It was a tall order and we knew that.’’

Purnell admitted to factoring in Milwaukee’s fatigue.

``We tried to go smaller in the second half with a quicker lineup, and I felt they’d need size to beat us,’’ he said. ``That said, I was afraid they’d get hot from the outside again [after hitting six three-pointers in the first half].’’

Instead, the Panthers hit only one more three and were outrebounded 15-9 in the second half.

Sophomore Matt Tiby led the Panthers with 20 points and 11 rebounds, with senior forward Kyle Kelm adding 16 points off the bench.

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