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DePaul goes deep, thumps UC Riverside in opener

Updated: December 11, 2012 6:16AM



Veterans carried the load for DePaul on Friday night in a season-opening 91-59 victory over UC-Riverside at McGrath-Phillips Arena. But coach Oliver Purnell got to sample what he hopes will be a sound reserve corps, including several freshmen tasting their first college action.

An explosive second half in which the Blue Demons (1-0) extended a 39-28 halftime lead with a 16-3 run allowed Purnell to use every player, including his walk-ons. The bench contributed 33 points.

‘‘I thought we kind of warmed into it, to be honest,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘I thought we were a little nervous at the start. Once we got into the second half, we were into it. . . . Clearly, we tightened up our rebounding in the second half, too.’’

The Demons were outrebounded 21-17 in the first half but finished with a 39-35 edge on the boards.

Junior Cleveland Melvin had seven rebounds and 16 points for the Demons, but it was junior Brandon Young who sparked the second half and finished leading all scorers with 20 points, five assists and two steals. Young had 12 points in the second half, playing only 13 minutes.

All but two DePaul players were in the scoring column. The significant contributions came from sophomore center Derrell Robertson (four points, seven rebounds) and senior guard Worrel Clahar (eight points, three assists, two steals).

‘‘Robertson and [junior starter] Donnavan Kirk have to be a two-headed monster for us in the post, and Derrell did a great job and was very active on the glass,’’ Purnell said.

Freshman guard Durrell McDonald debuted with seven points and two assists, with two turnovers.

‘‘With a game like that, UC-Riverside is a great team, and it was good for the freshmen to give us a spark,’’ Purnell said.

‘‘The bench brings great energy,’’ Young added. ‘‘We feed off that.’’

The Highlanders (0-1) were led by freshman guard Josh Fox’s 17 points and five rebounds, while sophomore Austin Quick added 15 points. The game was the first of a Chicago weekend series for the Highlanders, who play against UIC on Sunday.

The Demons next head to Allstate Arena on Thursday to host Gardner-Webb in the opening of the Cancun Challenge. They will host Austin Peay next Saturday in the Challenge before heading to Mexico for the final games of that tournament.



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