ROSEMONT, Ill. - Southern Miss erased a 12-point first half deficit to defeat DePaul, 75-68, Wednesday night in the opening game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic
Aaron Brown led the Golden Eagles with 13 points, all in the second half. Michael Craig had 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds, Daveon Boardingham had 12 points and seven boards and Chip Armelin had 10 points and six rebounds. Jerrold Brooks recorded seven points and Neil Watson added six points and five assists.
"I thought the biggest thing tonight, for this early in the year, was that the game didn't start the way we wanted," said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. "But we never hung our head. We didn't feel sorry for ourselves. They just kept grinding and grinding. That's what our team is. We're just a tough, grind-it-out, overachieving team. But we're going to play hard, and that was evident by us outrebounding a much, much bigger team by seven."
With the game tied at five, Cleveland Melvin hit a three-pointer to send the Blue Demons on a 14-2 run. After the teams traded baskets, Southern Miss got jumpers from Watson, Brooks and Craig to pull to within 21-15 midway through the first half.
But a jumper from Cleveland followed by three straight free throws from Tommy Hamilton IV game DePaul at 26-15 lead with 7:26 to play in the first half.
However, Chip Armelin drained a three-pointer and a jumper. Norville Carey hit two layups and Watson drained a pair of free throws to tie the game at 26. Deonte Houston then connected on a three-point play to give the Golden Eagles their first lead of the game, 29-26. Daveon Boardingham then made it a 16-0 run with a layup.
After Charles McKinney hit one-of-two free throws, Carey and Boardingham both hit one-of-two. A three-pointer by Jamee Crocket cut the deficit to three points, but Boardingham hit a pair of free throws to send Southern Miss into the break with a 35-30 lead.
The lead quickly evaporated in the second half, as DePaul started on a 10-2 run. A three-pointer by Brown gave Southern Miss the lead, but Peter Ryckbosch retied it at 42.
But a layup by Norville Carey sent the Golden Eagles on an 11-0 run as they took a 53-42 eight minutes into the second half. With the Golden Eagles up 11, Brandon Young drained a three-pointer to send DePaul on a 13-4 run to cut the deficit to 59-57.
After Brown drained a trey, Young followed with a layup. But Jeremiah Eason connected on a three-point play to push the lead to six. Melvin hit a three to pull within 65-62, with 5:19 to play, but that's as close as the Blue Demons would get.
Young led all scorers with 23 points and six rebounds and Melvin added 16 points.
Southern Miss shot 52.0-percent (26-of-50) from the floor, including 4-of-11 (36.4%) from three. It was also 19-of-27 (70.4%) from the charity stripe. DePaul shot 43.4-percent (23-of-53) from the field, but was just 7-of-26 (26.9%) from three. The Golden Eagles also outrebounded DePaul, 36-29.
Southern Miss plays the second of four consecutive road games next Monday, November 18, when it travels to Fargo, N.D., to face North Dakota State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.
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