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Brandon Young helps DePaul basketball hold off pesky Stags

Updated: December 29, 2012 6:34AM

DePaul junior Cleveland Melvin matched his career high of 30 points Tuesday against Fairfield, but it was junior teammate Brandon Young who saved things in the end for the Blue Demons.

Melvin had 24 points in the first half, but Young scored five of his 20 in the waning seconds after the Stags had sliced a 14-point lead to five with two minutes left. He added a key rebound with less than a minute to go to help the Demons to an 85-78 victory at Allstate Arena.

‘‘Throughout the game, we were communicating and talking to each other on defense, but near the end, Coach [Oliver Purnell] told us it was a four-minute game,’’ Young said. ‘‘As the point guard, I had to take control and calm my team.’’

Young had 12 points in the second half to help snap a two-game losing streak for the Demons (3-3).

Melvin scored his 24 points in the first half in 15 minutes as the Demons built a 45-37 halftime lead.

‘‘That’s how we need [Melvin] to play every game,’’ Young said. ‘‘He was scoring, running the floor, defending.’’

But Melvin went from shooting 11-for-17 in the first half to 2-for-6 in the second as the Stags (3-4), led by senior guard and Dolton native Derek Needham (29 points), turned to a zone defense, a scheme that has befuddled DePaul much of the season.

‘‘We were able to set up our zone because we were scoring ourselves,’’ Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said. ‘‘But they were good at getting stops and causing turnovers.’’

The Stags committed 19 turnovers leading to 25 DePaul points. The Demons had 17 assists to 11 turnovers, reversing what had been a problem in two losses to Wichita State and Western Kentucky.

‘‘We played good basketball for longer stretches,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘And I’m encouraged because I know we can play better. We have to develop consistency. Teams will zone us. We have to work on the mentality of continuing to attack.’’

DePaul had two other players in double figures: junior Donnavan Kirk (10 points, nine rebounds) and sophomore Charles McKinney (career-high 11 points).

Sophomore Jamee Crockett missed his third game since injuring his right knee Nov. 17 against Austin Peay. He’s doubtful for Friday’s game at Auburn but might return Dec. 5 against Chicago State, Purnell said.

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