WKU takes third place in Cancun Challenge with win

Lucas Aulbach

Changes to the starting lineup helped WKU roll to a 70-61 win over DePaul on Wednesday.

The win was the second game the Toppers played in the 2012 Cancun Challenge, held in Cancun, Mex. WKU took third place in the tournament after winning Wednesday’s consolation game.

Senior guard Jamal Crook and junior guard Brandon Harris had started each game of the season but came off the bench against the Blue Demons, replaced in the starting lineup by junior guard Caden Dickerson and sophomore guard Kevin Kaspar.

Sophomore guard T.J. Price took advantage of his role in the starting lineup as he rolled to 13 first-half points.

He had his best looks of the night from beyond the arc, connecting on 3-of-6 three-point shots, but was held scoreless in the last 20 minutes.

Price’s success from behind the three-point line was a difference-maker for the Toppers. He contributed to WKU’s 5-of-14 night from three – DePaul was able to hit just 1-of-14.

Kaspar also looked right at home in the starting lineup. He had nine points, all in the first half, to go with five rebounds and four assists.

The second half, on the other hand, belonged to Crook, who took over at point guard for much of the later period. He finished with 16 total points and controlled the Topper offense.

Harris pulled in a team-high 10 rebounds for the second time in as many nights and added six points as he came off the bench.

The Toppers looked like a different team than the one that took the court against Iowa on Tuesday. They held a good lead for most of the night, only falling behind once early in the first half, and held a double-digit lead for almost all of the second half.

WKU was consistently foiled by DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin, a bright spot for the Blue Demons. Melvin connected on 11-of-23 shots and finished with a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Wednesday was WKU’s last chance to play south of the border. The Toppers will hit the court at home against Brescia in their next game, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.