TCU Daily Skiff Friday, March 12, 2004
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Frogs out and feeling blue
DePaul sends the Horned Frogs packing in the Conference USA tournament quarterfinals.

By Lew Freedman
Chicago Tribune

CINCINNATI — Andre Brown might as well have held up a flashing neon sign reading, “Give me the ball!”

Not that Sammy Mejia needed much prodding. From the opening tip, the freshman point guard fed the ball into the low post over and over again.

Brown dunked, powered in lay-ups or shot short jumpers, accumulating 21 points as DePaul overcame periodic resistance to squash TCU, 89-65, Thursday afternoon at U.S. Bank Arena.

“Game in and game out teams are double-teaming me, or triple-teaming,” said Brown, who also had 11 rebounds. “When I saw it was one-on-one, my teammates got me the ball.”

The victory propelled the 20-8 Blue Demons into the semifinals of the Conference USA postseason tournament Friday afternoon against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. It is the first time No. 1 seed DePaul has won 20 games in a season or won a conference tournament game since the 1999-2000 season.

On this day, DePaul coach Dave Leitao said Brown couldn't be stopped or defended.
Mejia, who had 10 assists, said there were holes to exploit in TCU’s defense.

“We started off and we pretty much got whatever we wanted,” Mejia said. “I’m always probing and looking for Andre.”

The Frogs (12-17), who moved into the second round by besting Marquette, couldn’t stop any of the Blue Demons. DePaul exploded to a 20-point lead in the first half, then weathered TCU runs that ultimately cut the lead to eight points twice.

“I think we started to look at the scoreboard a little bit,” said DePaul forward Delonte Holland, who scored 19 points. “Coach pulled us aside and talked about being mature.”

DePaul shot 53.8 percent from the field and dominated the boards, 40-24. TCU’s guards Nucleus Smith (17 points), Corey Santee (16) and Marcus Shropshire (14) did all of the damage and Smith, who disputed a critical offensive foul, was certain the Frogs would win.

“I thought we were going to come back,” he said. “Once we came back today those guys on DePaul hit some big shots.”

TCU did not score a basket in the game’s final 4 minutes, 20 seconds, and a flashy one-hander by Brown and two 3-pointers by guard Drake Diener (15 points) quickly raised the margin.

“We defended them when we needed to,” said Leitao.

Although DePaul had a first-round bye, Leitao substituted freely, and back up guard LeVar Seals played a pivotal role on the slippery Santee, holding him to a 7-for-22 shooting night.

Leitao acknowledged that winning three games in three days to capture the tournament title is “a difficult chore” and said he expects UAB to be a serious challenge.

“Hopefully, we'll be OK if we maintain our poise,” Leitao said. “I kind of think it’s gonna be a great game.”
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