DePaul Tops Cal, 68-65, in Pete Newell Challenge

Dec. 22, 2005

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Draelon Burns scored four points in the final 2:35, and DePaul hung on for a 68-65 victory Wednesday night in the Pete Newell Challenge when California's Leon Powe missed two free throws with 2.8 seconds left in a two-point game.

The Golden Bears (6-3) trailed 67-65 with 14.7 seconds left when Rod Benson turned the ball over on the inbound pass to Powe at the top of the key. But Sammy Mejia missed a free throw on the other end for DePaul (6-4) to give Cal another chance it couldn't capitalize on.

Powe drew the fifth foul on Karron Clarke and went to the line with a chance to tie it. But his missed the first shot and purposely missed the second. The ball failed to touch the rim, giving the Blue Demons the ball. Mejia hit one free throw for the final margin.

Mejia had 20 points and kept the Blue Demons close all game in the first meeting between the schools since playing twice during the 1998-99 season. The Bears earned a 58-57 victory in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament that year on the way to winning the NIT title.

Burns, who scored 13 points, pulled DePaul within 63-62 on two free throws at 2:35, then stole the ball on the other end moments later and drove the entire court for a layin. Wilson Chandler scored the next time down for a 66-63 DePaul lead before a Cal basket by Richard Midgley.

Ayinde Ubaka hit three 3-pointers in the second half on the way to 16 points, and California lost its second straight after a six-game winning streak.

Powe added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Bears (6-3), who played for the first time in 11 days after a break for final exams. Cal had its six-game winning streak snapped in a 69-56 defeat at Kansas on Dec. 10 and came out rusty Wednesday.

Omar Wilkes had 13 points and DeVon Hardin 11, nine rebounds and two blocks for Cal, which struggled on offense early against DePaul's effective zone and had a tough time generating good looks at the basket, a problem area for Cal at times the past two seasons.

Ubaka made two early 3-pointers in the second half as Cal built a 42-37 lead but Mejia kept the Blue Demons in it with a 3 of his own. Ubaka shot 6-for-10 - making four of six 3-point tries - and three assists and no turnovers in one of his best college games.

Jabari Currie added 13 points for the Blue Demons, who headed home after this game after being on the road for four games since a 70-66 victory over Alabama Birmingham on Dec. 6.

Mejia, a junior guard, finished with three assists to move into 18th place on the school's career list with 265, passing Joe Ponsetto (1974-78) - husband of DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto.

DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright hoped his team's tough early schedule would prepare the Blue Demons for the challenges of playing their first season in the Big East Conference, and they handled this game well after trailing 31-29 at halftime.

Powe provided a glimpse of the kind of physical big men DePaul should expect to see.

The Blue Demons held their own in the paint despite the absence of 6-foot-9 center Wesley Green, who is out indefinitely with a right foot injury.

The 90-year-old Newell, still running his camps for big men after having lung surgery earlier this year, received a warm standing ovation from the 8,426 fans during a first-half timeout.

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