DePaul 84

(5-3, 2-1 away)

(16) Wake Forest 81

(7-2, 5-2 home)

9:00 PM ET, December 13, 2005

Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-salem, North Carolina

1 2 T
DEP 44 4084
#16WAKE 40 4181

Top Performers

DePaul: S. Mejia 24 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Wake Forest: E. Williams 24 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

DePaul stuns Wake for first win over ACC in 5 years

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Jerry Wainwright finally had a successful return to Wake Forest.

Sammy Mejia scored a season-high 24 points -- including a basket to answer a late Wake Forest run in the final seconds -- and DePaul beat the 16th-ranked Demon Deacons 84-81 on Tuesday night to snap their 21-game home winning streak.

Draelon Burns added a career-high 22 points in his first start of the season for the Blue Demons (5-3), who gave Wainwright his first win in six tries against the program where he spent nine seasons as an assistant.

Eric Williams scored 24 points for the Demon Deacons (7-2), who looked rusty after an extended layoff en route to the rare home loss. Wake Forest was tied with Utah for the nation's fifth-longest home winning streak and had won 28 straight home nonconference games.

Wainwright was an assistant at Wake Forest from 1985-94 under Bob Staak and Dave Odom before taking over at North Carolina-Wilmington. He spent eight seasons there and three seasons at Richmond, with his teams playing the Demon Deacons in each of the past four seasons.

His Richmond teams had lost games by an average of 16 points here in each of the past two seasons. This time -- thanks largely to Mejia and Burns -- he was able to leave with a win.

"The biggest thing, when you play teams like this, you've got to stand in the middle of the ring," Wainwright said. "You cannot get on your heels. I told them before the game, 'We're going to get knocked down, you've got to get back up.' And I thought the kids did a good job of that."

Mejia came in averaging a team-high 14 points, and shot 9-for-15 with three 3-pointers. He also played tough defense against Wake Forest's Justin Gray, an all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer who finished with 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Meanwhile, Burns got the start because second-leading scorer Karron Clarke was sidelined after spraining his right ankle at Monday's practice. The sophomore finished 8-for-14 from the field and hit three 3s after averaging almost eight points off the bench.

"I didn't get the word that I was starting until today, but I kind of figured that's what would happen," Burns said. "I wasn't nervous to step up tonight."

The tandem took advantage of a Wake Forest team that had not played since a 78-59 win over Elon on Dec. 3, and didn't practice as a team last week due to exams. The rust showed as the Demon Deacons were outrebounded for the first time this season.

They also allowed DePaul to shoot 52 percent -- the first time an opponent had shot 50 percent this year -- and hit just 19 of 32 free throws.

Gray wasn't the only one of Wake Forest's top players to struggle. Trent Strickland came in averaging 16 points and nine rebounds, but finished with 12 points and four rebounds on 4-for-9 shooting.

And Williams just couldn't turn a very good performance into a dominating one. He was virtually unstoppable inside, scoring 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the first 3½ minutes, but he finished just 6-for-14 at the line.

"They came out from the jump wanting to win," Strickland said. "They crashed the boards hard, they did everything a lot harder than we did. ... They just wanted this game harder than we did tonight."

DePaul went ahead to stay when Cliff Clinkscales left Harvey Hale standing with an excellent crossover dribble and drove to the basket for a 52-50 lead with about 14 minutes left. That started a seven-point spurt by the Blue Demons, who maintained that lead the rest of the game.

Trailing 78-67 with 2:53 left, the Demon Deacons made a late push to close within 80-78 on Michael Drum's 3-pointer with 46 seconds left. But -- as he had done all night -- Mejia answered. With his team holding the ball and the shot clock winding down, Mejia drove on Strickland and knocked down a turnaround jumper with 12 seconds left for an 82-78 lead.

Mejia then added two free throws after being fouled on a rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Gray to seal the win.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 84 81
FG Made-Attempted 32-62 (.516) 28-57 (.491)
3P Made-Attempted 8-21 (.381) 6-21 (.286)
FT Made-Attempted 12-15 (.800) 19-32 (.594)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
Largest Lead 11 4

2005-06 Season

» Dec 13, 2005 DEP 84, @WAKE 81Recap