No. 18 DePaul Tops Gamecocks

A Uniontown, Kan., resident holds a piece of hail that fell in his yard Sunday, March 12, 2006, shortly after a storm system swept through northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.
AP Photo/Kenny Felt

DePaul coach Paul Kennedy has always said his team is more than star sophomore Quentin Richardson.

The 18th-ranked Blue Demons (3-1) proved him right Saturday, surviving one of Richardson's worst games to beat South Carolina 58-46 and take third place at the Puerto Rico Shootout.

"We got a lot of people on this team who can step up," said Kerry Hartfield, who hit four 3-pointers. "Any given night, anybody can help this team. It's not just one person, it's a total team effort."

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  • And if it weren't Hartfield his three straight 3s broke open a tight game it was Paul McPherson with 14 points and five offensive rebounds or freshman Steven Hunter with a 6-for-6 performance or Bobby Simmons' 10 points in the final seven minutes.

    "We had faith in our offense and our players," McPherson said. "Luckily, it worked out."

    Kennedy was excited that his team recovered from its first loss, 68-64 to Texas on Friday where the Blue Demons trailed by 18 points before waking up.

    "This is what we wanted, a good team game," Kennedy said. "We executed on offense and showed a lot of confidence."

    Richardson was sort of lost on the court "It looked like he took the night off," South Carolina's David Ross said and finished with five points, all in the first seven minutes.

    Richardson, who was 2-of-11 from the field, said his shots weren't falling and he was bothered from a tooth that was pulled before the Blue Demons left Chicago.

    "Those things happen," he said.

    But not usually to prospects who score 50 points their two previous games and have NBA scouts salivating about their ptential. Richardson hadn't scored this few since he had four points against North Carolina Charlotte on Feb. 27.

    Texas coach Rick Barnes, whose club got lit up for 27 points by Richardson but still won Friday, said you just plan on the DePaul star getting his.

    And while he was held in check, Richardson still had a hand in DePaul's back-breaking 12-2 run to start. His 3-pointer followed dunks by Hunter and McPherson. Richardson's other basket was a simple jumper with 13:40 to go in the first half.

    South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler said DePaul's talent was too much for his young team.

    "Some of those things they were running against us, we had never even worked on yet," he said.

    The Gamecocks got within 33-29 after Herbert Lee Davis' second straight 3-pointer. But if they had an answer for Richardson, they did not for the others, especially McPherson, a gifted leaper who soared for rebounds most South Carolina players couldn't think of grabbing.

    Davis, Aaron Lucas and Tony Kitchings scored eight points each for the Gamecocks.

    South Carolina (3-2) tried the same slow-it-up tricks to get back in it that nearly worked against Michigan State before the Gamecocks lost 59-56 in the semifinals. The Gamecocks passed the ball constantly, running the shot clock down under five seconds at least five times before shooting.

    It worked, for a while.

    Simmons didn't have a shot in the first half and didn't score until less than seven minutes remained.

    "We knew coming into the game that they probably didn't want to go up and down with us anyway," McPherson said. "We just had to keep our composure and run our offense."

    But DePaul thrived from outside as Hartfield's three straight 3-pointers and Hunter's three baskets turned a four-point game into a 23-15 lead. The Blue Demons led 41-33 at the half.

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