USA TODAY Sports
St. John's saw a 17-point lead dwindle in the late stages, but preserved the win.
Sometime in the first half - perhaps it was Jamee Crockett's second tip-slam - St. John's knew they were in for a game. Harrison was struggling to find open looks, the Johnnies struggled to keep the Blue Demons off of the offensive glass, and only the offensive explosion of Jamal Branch and facilitations of Sir`Dominic Pointer kept the Red Storm in the lead.
Whatever Steve Lavin said at halftime (or, really, after the first media timeout) sparked a sustained run of defense that held the Blue Demons down for much of the second half on their way to a 71-62 win. St. John's improves to 11-7, 3-3 in the Big East.
Late in the game, the Red Storm struggled with spacing and ball movement, panicking against the DePaul press and giving up three pointers to Jamee Crockett (19 points, 4 offensive rebounds) while St. John's ran their burn offense. But D`Angelo Harrison helped preserve a dwindling lead with a steal of Moses Morgan with just over 2:00 left.
After a short burst from DePaul early in the second half - they took the lead after capitalizing on a deflected Amir Garrett pass - St. John's grabbed control, collapsing the defense into the paint, deflecting passes, and running those passes the other way for scores.
St. John's went on a 23-11 run on their way to extending their lead to 63-46 in the latter part of the second half. But DePaul, similar to Tuesday night against Cincinnati, didn't quit before the final buzzer. Inside of two minutes, the Blue Demons had cut the Red Storm lead to just three - 65-62.
Harrison and JaKarr Sampson ultimately buried DePaul at the free throw line, giving St. John's the hard-fought road victory.
Jamal Branch had a coming out party, scoring 14 points in the first half to pace the Johnnies and 18 points overall. Harrison (15), Pointer (14), and Sampson (10) joined Branch in double figures for Steve Lavin's team.
Despite the win, the Red Storm went a woeful 0-4 from three-point range. St. John's became the first Big East team in three years to win a conference game without converting at least once from deep.
Cleveland Melvin added 16 for the Demons, who shot just 34.7% (25-72) from the field and 20% from long range (5-25). DePaul's second offensive option, Brandon Young, only scored 6 points against St. John's on Saturday afternoon.
St. John's will digest this win for a few days before traveling to Piscataway, New Jersey for a Wednesday night rematch with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Rutgers defeated St. John's at the Garden last week.