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St. John’s loses to DePaul, 91-74

Beaten on the glass today, the Johnnies have lost four straight - all in Big East play

Bashir Ahmed attempts to pull the Johnnies up in the first half vs DePaul.
Wendell Cruz

St. John’s fell to DePaul, 91-74, in a game where DePaul rebounded 44% of their misses at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm fall to 0-4 in the Big East, with Georgetown and Villanova coming up in the next week.

The game was a back-and forth affair, with Marvin Clark II scoring the first six points on threes, some decent ball movement, and long jumpers from DePaul. But after seven lead changes, freshman point guard Justin Roberts came in and changed the speed of the game. And in changing the speed, St. John’s found themselves also contending more with DePaul’s strength: offensive rebounding.

The Johnnies lost the lead for the last time in the first time with about 13 minutes left, in a 9-0 run by DePaul that featured four offensive rebounds by the Blue Demons.

A corner three by Amar Alibegovic and a five points by Shamorie Ponds (against a three by Eli Cain on DePaul’s side) cut the lead to four. But a tip-in from the baseline from Max Strus, a layup by Paul Reed and free throws by Marin Maric - after an offensive rebound - elevated the lead to 10 points for the Blue Demons.

St. John’s got a runner with a second left to cut the lead to four at the half.

Fans may have been upset with the referees for not calling fouls. But DePaul defended well, attacked the basket - and St. John’s shot half of their shots from outside the arc. The Red Storm also had five turnovers - four by Justin Simon.

The team started gritty in the second half, with a couple of offensive rebounds for the Johnnies, then drawing an offensive foul on Maric.

But the transition opportunities did not come. The free throw shots expected from the more aggressive start did not come. Chris Mullin’s plan was not breaking down the pack line or zone defenses the Blue Demons threw at the Red Storm, and it was getting late in the game for the second-half run fans came accustomed to in the non-conference play.

With 14 minutes left in the game, Kassoum Yakwe entered. With 13 minutes left, he earned the team’s first foul shot on the game. The team had been more active attacking the basket, with Ponds getting more touches and driving to the basket. But despite seven points and three blocks in the half from Yakwe, the team’s inability to get scores - or stops - doomed them.

Kassoum Yakwe, Amar Alibegovic and staff member Luca Virgilio watching the waning seconds of the loss
Wendell Cruz

In the end, DePaul had 20 second-chance points, 15 offensive rebounds (against 19 defensive rebounds for the Red Storm), shot 47% from outside the arc, got 29 free throws (Free Throw Rate: 48%) and only turned the ball over on 16% of their possessions.

The Red Storm were down as much as 19 points in the second half. Bashir Ahmed led the team with 21 points before fouling out with a minute left. Shamorie Ponds added 15 with six assists.

Marin Maric dropped 17 of his 25 points in the second half to lead DePaul. Max Strus added 22, and Tre’Darius McCallum added 16 to help the Blue Demons earn their first Big East win.

Next up for St. John’s is Georgetown at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday evening.