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Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young key DePaul’s 2nd-half surge

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Updated: December 18, 2013 6:53AM

Birthday boy Brandon Young did plenty in the second half Saturday to fuel an 81-72 comeback victory by DePaul against Wright State at Allstate Arena.

But the senior point guard, who scored 14 points, gave more credit to his senior teammate Cleveland Melvin and freshman Tommy Hamilton IV.

“Cleve really stepped, and so did Tommy,’’ said Young, 22. “They came up big for us in the end, and I’ll give credit to them. We got the win on my birthday, so I feel good.’’

Melvin turned in a dominating second-half performance, scoring 16 of his game-high 23 points and grabbing nine of his 13 rebounds when the Blue Demons (2-1) needed it. Melvin passed Sammy Mejia on the school’s all-time scoring list, moving into ninth place with 1,512 points. He also passed Mejia in rebounding (281).

He had the dunk off a pass from Hamilton during a 15-3 run that turned the tide for the Demons.

“I’m definitely happy about that,’’ Melvin said of his place in the program’s record book. “But I’m more focused on helping us to get wins and get to the tournament.’’

Coach Oliver Purnell moved Melvin inside against the smaller Raiders (1-2), who held a lead until the final six minutes.

After committing 15 first-half turnovers, the Demons dialed up their defense to get six second-half steals, holding their turnovers to seven and outscoring the Raiders 48-37 in the final 20 minutes. Wright State had one field goal in the final eight minutes.

“Cleve got every defensive rebound, and Brandon orchestrated our switching defenses,’’ Purnell said. “And they got their teammates involved.’’

Hamilton had 13 points and five rebounds, and freshman guard Billy Garrett Jr. scored 12 off the bench. Garrett and Young had seven of their team’s 15 first-half turnovers, but Young had only two in the second half and Garrett none.

“I don’t think you’ll see Young have five turnovers in another game,’’ Raiders coach Billy Donlon said. “He’s a really good player. Those two seniors [Young and Melvin] really stepped up when it mattered.”

Young also had one of two technical fouls called against the Demons. Senior Sandi Marcius was whistled for the other when he swung on the rim after a first-half dunk.

“We did our share of shooting ourselves in the foot,’’ Purnell said. “But we played the last six minutes flawlessly. We shot free throws (28-for-36 in the game), we didn’t turn it over and our defense came through.

“Wright State is a scrappy team and did a lot of things to cause us problems. We’re going to be in 15 or 20 more games that come down to the last six minutes, so the good thing was our guys kept playing and didn’t lose confidence.’’

The Raiders had three players in double figures, led by sophomore forward JT Yoho’s 13 points.


Twitter: @toniginnetti

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