Scores

Final

DePaul 70

(20-13, 9-7 Big East)

Kansas State 65

(23-12, 10-6 Big 12)

9:00 PM ET, March 19, 2007

Fred Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kansas

1 2 T
DEP 38 3270
KSU 30 3565

Top Performers

DePaul: W. Chandler 18 Pts, 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Kansas State: C. Martin 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

Wildcats have not gone past second round since '94 NIT semis

Associated Press

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- For almost 40 minutes, DePaul fed off the energy of Kansas State's raucous home crowd.

Then, in the closing seconds, the Blue Demons stilled the cheers.

DePaul let Kansas State get close late in Monday night's second-round NIT West Regional game, but made enough plays down the stretch to reach the regional final with a 70-65 victory.

"Some teams get intimidated by a big crowd, but we actually get excited about it," said guard Sammy Mejia, who shared DePaul's scoring lead with 18 points. "Coming into the game, we knew that this place was going to be jumping, and we just wanted to make the best of it."

The capacity crowd of 13,340 at Bramlage Coliseum -- even with Kansas State on spring break -- showed how much first-year coach Bob Huggins has energized the Wildcats' program.

"It was a remarkable environment, and I think it speaks a real testimony to the NIT," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "It is not just another tournament. It's selected teams who are really going all out to win it."

Wilson Chandler also had 18 points and Draelon Burns added 17 for third-seeded DePaul, which will be at top-seeded Air Force on Wednesday.

The Blue Demons (20-13), who shot 11-for-15 from the field in the second half, reached 20 wins for the third time in the last four seasons and won two straight postseason games for the first time since the 1990 NIT.

Kansas State (23-12), the West's No. 2 seed, has not advanced past the second round in the postseason since reaching the NIT semifinals in 1994.

"It's hard going out this way," guard Clent Stewart said. "We didn't play our best game, and they took advantage of that by making shots at the end when we didn't."

The Wildcats had their chances at the line in a tense, physical game in which technical fouls were called on both coaches. However, they missed seven of their 17 foul shots.

Cartier Martin hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 22 seconds to go to pull the Wildcats within two points.

But Burns hit a free throw with 20.5 seconds left, making it 68-65, and DePaul got the ball back when Kansas State's David Hoskins tipped it out of bounds.

"We were down 10 and could have quit," Huggins said. "We didn't have a lot of things going our way. If we get the rebound off the free throw, it's a one-possession game and we could have tied it up.

"We competed. That's all you can ask."

Chandler hit two free throws with 17.5 seconds left for the game's final points, then took a long pass and dribbled out the clock after Kansas State's last possession ended in a turnover.

Hoskins led Kansas State with 24 points. Martin added 21 in his final game for the Wildcats and Stewart finished with 15.

DePaul led 60-50 on Mejia's dunk with 4:25 to go, but Kansas State responded with an 8-0 run, capped by Stewart's 3-pointer with just under 3 minutes left.

Kansas State was behind by eight points at the break, but closed within three when Stewart hit a 3-pointer with 11:37 remaining. But the Wildcats went scoreless on their next three possessions, and an 11-4 run gave DePaul a 10-point lead before Kansas State mounted its late comeback.

DePaul trailed 9-7 in the first half, then took the lead for good with a 10-0 run made up entirely of layups and free throws. The Blue Demons led 38-30 at the half.

A technical foul on Huggins helped fuel DePaul's run. Huggins protested a non-call on a Kansas State turnover that led to a fastbreak for the Blue Demons and a two-shot foul against Martin.

DePaul converted all four free throws for a 15-9 lead.

A few minutes later, Wainwright was charged with a technical for arguing a charging call on Mejia. Martin hit the free throws and Akeem Wright made the front end of a two-shot foul on the Wildcats' ensuing possession, pulling Kansas State to 21-19.

Lance Harris, who came in averaging 10.7 points, went scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting -- all from 3-point range -- in his final game for Kansas State. Wright, also playing his last game for the Wildcats, fouled out with nine assists and seven rebounds.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DEP
KSU
Points 70 65
FG Made-Attempted 25-47 (.532) 24-53 (.453)
3P Made-Attempted 7-15 (.467) 7-24 (.292)
FT Made-Attempted 13-17 (.765) 10-17 (.588)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 13 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
Largest Lead 10 3

Series

DATEGAMELINKS
» Mar 19, 2007 DEP 70, @KSU 65Recap