- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Before the game started, Fuquan Edwin received a basketball commemorating his entrance into the Seton Hall record book as the program’s all-time steal leader.

Edwin then went out and stole the show with a sizzling first half that sent Seton Hall to its first Big East home victory of the season, 86-69, over DePaul Saturday at the Prudential Center.

“He’s the best defender I’ve seen in a very long time,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “He picks it off and goes the length of the floor and lays it up. His defense turned into his offense. He’s really playing well for them now.”

The 6-6 senior only had one steal to his credit in the game, but he did put himself in position to run the floor and scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the first half by sinking nine of his first 10 shots from the field.

Edwin scored the first points for Seton Hall on a length-of-the-floor dash and that told teammate Brian Oliver that it might his night.

“When Fuquan hit his first shot, I had a feeling it was going to be his night,” Oliver said.

Edwin drained two straight 3-point shots to cap an early 11-0 run that gave Seton Hall (12-8, 3-4) a 13-4 lead it never relinquished. Edwin reached 22 points with 4:47 left in the first half after he completed a three-point play.

“I just wanted to do what I’m comfortable doing, getting out in transition for some easy baskets,” said Edwin, who made 11 of 16 shots overall. “I can get comfortable by making some easy shots by getting to the rim. We came off a tough loss to St. John’s (77-76 on Thursday) and we had to bounce back. We took care of business tonight.”

Edwin’s performance didn’t come as a surprise to DePaul (10-11, 2-6 Big East) because he’s done this before against the Blue Demons. Two years ago, the swingman scored a then career-best 28 points in a 94-73 Seton Hall victory. Last season, he drove for the winning points with 9.6 seconds left to defeat DePaul, 73-72.

“I don’t really think about it, but I do play well against them,” Edwin said.

Seton Hall has now won seven of the last eight meetings. Edwin’s career-high is the 35 points he scored against Mercer in November. Both of his Big East career-best scoring efforts - 28 and 30 points - have come against DePaul.

“We turned the ball over at the top where we affectionately call them ‘pick sixes,’ where you can’t defend them,” Purnell said. “We gave up 19 first-half points on turnovers. If you really look at it, that’s the game.”

Brandon Young scored 23 points, R.J. Curington had 15 and Durrell McDonald scored 14 for DePaul.

Edwin opened the scoring in the second half with a 3-pointer, igniting a 9-2 burst that staked the Pirates to a 54-27 lead with 17:17 left.

“I did not think (the 3-pointer) was going to go in and it went in, it was one of those nights,” Edwin said.

During the run, Brian Oliver scored on a drive to the basket and DePaul called time out. During the timeout, Young of DePaul was called for a technical foul and Oliver sank both free throws.

DePaul was without its leading scorer and rebounder, Cleveland Melvin. The 6-8 senior, averaging 16.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, was held out of the game for breaking team rules. Also missing from the Blue Demons lineup was starting guard Billy Garrett, who reportedly was ill. The 6-5 freshman leads all Big East freshmen in scoring (11.9 per game.), assists (69) and free throw percentage (.827).

“Billy (Garrett) was getting IVs in the hospital when the game started and Charles (McKinney) is on crutches and getting rehab,” Oliver said. “We just have to reevaluate Cleve’s (Melvin) situation with his suspension.”

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