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DePaul ends 51-game skid vs. ranked foes

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NEWARK, N.J. — During the last six seasons, DePaul has been an easy out in the Big East Conference, finishing last each time while compiling just 10 conference wins.

This season is a far different story for coach Oliver Purnell’s Blue Demons. With a 64-60 win over No. 24 Seton Hall on Thursday, DePaul is off to its best start in the conference since it joined in 2005.

The Blue Demons (11-9) are 5-2 in the league and involved in a three-way tie for first place with Georgetown and Providence.

Purnell’s squad came back from an eight-point deficit, 55-47, with 6:25 to play to end a 51-game losing streak against ranked opponents. The last ranked team to fall to DePaul was No. 17 Villanova, on Jan. 3, 2008. The Blue Demons’ last road win against a ranked team was at Wake Forest in 2005.

“Just believing,” Purnell said as an explanation for his team’s turnaround. “It’s something we’re trying to preach to our guys, but we want to be playing our best basketball in late February heading into the (Big East) tournament.”

Sophomore guard Billy Garrett Jr. and forward Myke Henry led DePaul with 14 points each.

Freshman forward Angel Delgado scored 19 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for Seton Hall (13-5, 3-3). Delgado recorded his sixth double-double of the season. Only UCLA forward Kevon Looney has more double-doubles among freshmen this season.

Junior guard Sterling Gibbs, who was second in the Big East at 21 points per game, was held to just eight. He missed all eight of his 3-point shots as the Pirates were just 1 of 16 from beyond the arc.

“He’s played at such a high level,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said of Gibbs. “He’s getting a lot attention. He just had a bad night.

“When you have a bad night, sometimes you have to do other things. This will be a good learning experience for him.”

Sophomore guard Darrick Wood gave DePaul a 59-58 lead it never relinquished with a three-point play with 1:49 left. He scored 11 points in 15 minutes off the bench, mostly as a replacement for Garrett, who fouled out with 2:47 to play and the Pirates leading 56-55.

“He (Wood) has never lacked for confidence,” Purnell said. “He has offensive ability. We’re just trying to make him more consistent. We don’t win it without him.

“I said it was going to be hard here and Billy (Garrett) fouling out just makes it harder. That’s why it feels good to win when the game is hard-fought like that.”

DePaul outscored Seton Hall 17-8 during the final 6:25.

Seton Hall erased a 47-46 DePaul lead with a 9-0 spurt to move ahead 55-47 with 5:51 left. Garrett picked up his fourth foul on a charge taken by Carrington with 7:20 left and Seton Hall holding a 50-47 edge.

The Blue Demons opened the second half with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes to increase their lead to 43-33, but the Pirates countered with a 12-0 burst to retake the lead, 45-43, with 14:20 to go. Delgado paced the run with five points and four rebounds.

Garrett tossed in 11 first-half points and Henry had 10 to give the Blue Demons a 36-33 halftime lead.

The Pirates trailed just 31-29 before a three-point play by Wood and layup from Garrett extended the lead shortly before the break.

A 10-0 DePaul run with 6:38 left in the half snapped a 16-16 tie, giving the Blue Demons the largest lead for either team in the half. Garrett and Henry led the surge with four points apiece.

NOTES: Seton Hall guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina didn’t commit a turnover in 79 minutes in the previous game against Butler, marking the first time in 49 games together that neither had a miscue. … Pirates G Khadeen Carrington is the Big East Rookie of the Week for the second time in four weeks. The other two weeks, the award went to Seton Hall F Angel Delgado. … Pirates freshman F Isaiah Whitehead remains out with a stress fracture in his foot. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said it will be at least another week before he returns. … DePaul opened a three-game, six-day road

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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