SYRACUSE, N.Y. — DePaul coach Oliver Purnell had a plan to hand Syracuse another loss. It just didn't work out the way he envisioned.
Brandon Triche and James Southerland combined for 37 points in the final home game of their careers, and No. 17 Syracuse beat the Blue Demons 78-57 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
Syracuse (23-7, 11-6 Big East) broke a rare two-game losing streak in the Carrier Dome. No. 5 Georgetown started it 11 days ago with a 57-46 win that stopped the Orange's 38-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time.
Syracuse has struggled offensively in the past month and especially during its skid while facing mostly zone defenses, and Purnell went to a zone in the second half hoping to keep the trend going.
"We felt like coming in they weren't shooting the ball well," Purnell said. "If we could make them shoot the ball from the outside, we had a chance."
DePaul entered the game shooting 30.1 percent from 3-point range and Syracuse's staunch 2-3 zone defense was tied with Providence for the stingiest against the long-range game in the Big East, allowing 28.9 percent.
That didn't deter the Blue Demons, who gained an early lead by victimizing the Orange's perimeter defense three times in a span of just over 2 minutes. Jamee Crockett started the long-range surge with a 3 and finished it with another after Moses Morgan had hit from behind the arc.
"I felt good the way we were attacking the zone," Purnell said. "We were rebounding pretty well early, and I thought we were guarding them pretty good."
Brandon Young's layup gave DePaul a 21-15 lead at 12:26 of the opening period and then the Orange stormed back with a 20-3 run that included three three-point plays and gave them a 35-26 halftime lead.
"The combination of our bad offense the last 6 minutes of the first half and their ability to get on the offensive glass (made the difference)," Purnell said. "Our guys came out and obviously battled. They continue to battle and go back and work."
Cleveland Melvin had 15 points and eight rebounds for DePaul (11-19, 2-15), which lost its fifth straight and moved into a tie for last in the conference with South Florida.
Young had 12 points for the Blue Demons, Morgan added nine, and Crockett eight on 2-of-10 shooting.
The Orange's three-game slide came in a span of a week against Georgetown, No. 8 Louisville and No. 15 Marquette. The setbacks sent Syracuse plummeting out of the top 10 and out of contention for its second straight Big East regular season title. The Orange's only remaining regular season game is at Georgetown on Saturday.
It was Senior Night for Triche and Southerland.
Southerland struggled, going 5 of 19 from the field and 1 of 10 on 3-pointers. But he made all 11 of his free throws for 22 points in his first start of the season and just the third of his career. He also had a career-high 10 rebounds for his first-ever double-double in Orange.
Triche finished with 15 points and five rebounds, and C.J. Fair had 16 points, his 20th game in double figures this season. Michael Carter-Williams had 10 points, five assists and four steals.
Syracuse outscored DePaul 40-26 in the paint, 17-6 off turnovers, and went 24 of 31 on free throws to offset another tough shooting night from long range. The Orange went 2 of 18 on 3-pointers.
DePaul went 12 of 24 from the free throw line, and hurt its chances of staying close with a 9-for-20 performance from there in the second half. The Blue Demons were outrebounded 47-38 after matching Syracuse with 20 boards in the opening half. They also committed 18 turnovers and had 12 shots blocked.
"I thought they struggled against it," Purnell said of the zone defense. "Then, lo and behold, we get the ball to our best players and we can't convert free throws. That kept us from keeping it close. What we wanted to do was be close coming down the stretch and be able to pack the zone. We're chasing now, and that's a different deal."
The Orange never let the Blue Demons get closer than six points, and that came early in the second half.
"In the second half, we kind of started slacking and wasn't doing what we were supposed to be doing, staying patient on offense and rebounding," Melvin said. "Those are things that we had to do to beat Syracuse.
"We've just got to move on. This is a tough loss. We've just got to get ready for Senior Night (on Saturday against Pittsburgh) and hopefully get the win for our seniors."