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UMBC hangs tough, falls to DePaul, Melvin, 69-61

Retrievers make 14 steals; freshman Morgan scores season-high 15

From Sun staff reports

1:49 AM EST, December 23, 2012

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UMBC

@Mount St. Mary's

Saturday, 2p.m.

Visiting UMBC forced 18 turnovers, including a season-high 14steals, but lost to DePaul, 69-61, in men's basketball at Allstate Arena on Saturday.

Freshman Aaron Morgan led the Retrievers (2-10) with a season-high 15 points in 40 minutes of play. Ryan Cook (St. Vincent Pallotti) scored 13points, and Brian Neller added 12.

Cleveland Melvin led all scorers with 24points for the Blue Demons (9-3), who have won seven straight.

"I looked at this like any other game — come out, play well and get the win," said Melvin who attended Lake Clifton. "We didn't put this team away because we weren't executing and moving the ball around against the zone defense.

"We were putting up shots and not rebounding. We have to learn to do a better job of moving the ball and making plays against the zone."

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said about Melvin: "Clearly, he's a big factor for us. He was turning the ball over too many times and forcing it early. We're trying to get him to be more patient. He's going to face a lot of double-team defenses and guys sagging off to help."

UMBC trailed 38-30 at the half but held DePaul to seven second-half field goals and stayed in the game. A steal by Neller and driving layup cut the deficit to 47-43 with 11:08 remaining, but a 7-0 surge by DePaul restored a double-digit advantage.  

UMBC cut the lead to six points twice in the final 6:40 and had three possessions to get within four or three. Cook hit a 3-pointer with 2:20 to play to bring the visitors to within 64-58. The Retrievers got a quick stop on the other end, but Cook's pass to Neller on the wing sailed over his head to finish the game.

The Retrievers opened and had success with a matchup zone defense. Morgan hit a layup on the break to give the Retrievers an 11-9 advantage with 13:41 to play in the half. The Blue Demons retook the lead, but Neller hit a baseline jumper to tie the score at 23 with 6:21 left.

DePaul would regain the lead for good in the half with a 6-0 run. Brandon Young (Friendship Collegiate School) made a long 3-pointer with four seconds left for the largest lead, 38-30, at the break.

minutes, as UMBC hit eight of 15 and DePaul was 8-for-14. Chase Plummer and Brett Roseboro played with two fouls each, for 10 and 12 minutes, respectively.