Heavily favored and winners of seven of their last eight, St. John’s took a shock loss to the DePaul Blue Demons tonight, 88-83, at Carnesecca Arena.
St. John’s is 14-9 and 8-8 in the Big East, and stuck in fifth place in the conference with much tougher games coming.
DePaul is 4-11 on the season, 2-11 overall.
A few days ago, the DePaul game to some looked like an easy run, given the Blue Demon absences. But the combination of DePauls’ tough defense — covering the paint to keep opponents from drives and layups — and the addition of star guard Charlie Moore (along with Oscar Lopez, who has been out since the beginning of their season) made the game much more difficult than expected.
St. John’s quickly got acquainted with DePaul’s defense, which kept the Johnnies from clean drives into the paint. Despite getting two fouls on shot blocked Pauly Paulicap, the Johnnies were kept in a struggle in the paint. St. John’s shot 29% inside the arc in the first half, including 3/11 at the rim.
Behind Julian Champagnie, however, St. John’s was only down one at the half. The Red Storm shot 7/14 on threes. Champagnie and Vince Cole scored the last 13 points of the half for the Johnnies, where the home team cut a six-point deficit into a one point deficit at the half.
On the other side, Charlie Moore, who had missed the past two games, came off the bench with 10 points in the half, frustrating the Johnnies’ defense.
The second half had to be better, right?
A 19-5 run by DePaul knocked St. John’s on their heels, while Charlie Moore moved the ball, kept possession, and got to the rim. St. John’s committed a number of uncharacteristic turnovers to help dig the hole. Finally, St. John’s forced turnovers on four straight possessions, helping them cut the deficit to six.
Isaih Moore, who had hot a long jumper in the game, started to show his versatility, even as Julian Champagnie continued to pour in points. Moore hit a three and drew FTs on a rare fast break opportunity to whittle the deficit to five.
That looked to be as close as the Red Storm would get. Chasing the game, St. John’s gave up attempts at the rim from Oscar Lopez, Jr. and Romeo Weems after trying to trap.
DePaul is 3-10 on the season, as you may know, and the Demons struggled to execute at the end of their last game against Seton Hall. And that inability to to close out a game came again. After a pair of free throws from Dylan Addae-Wusu, who had struggled in the game, a trap forced a turnover on Charlie Moore — resulting in a layup from Addae-Wusu.
DePaul’s defense was good enough this evening, though, as St. John’s missed three of their last 13 from the field in the last five minutes on the clock. The Blue Demons closed out the game, leaving the Johnnies in need of some significant wins down the stretch to wipe the negative of losing to DePaul.
Dylan Addae-Wusu and Rasheem Dunn combined to shoot 5/23 from the field with nine turnovers (six from Dunn). Three of the makes by Addae-Wusu were in the last minute with the game nearly out of reach.
Greg Williams Jr., who looked hurt at the end of the first half and came back for some minutes in the second, also struggled — scoring a three, with an assist, a steal and a turnover. Marcellus Earlington, who shined in the last game, also struggled, going scoreless.
St. John’s offense was less than it needed to be today but the Johnnies still scored 1.05 pts/ possessions... But in that number is a wild imbalance in the paint: St. John’s: 18 points in the paint, 8/26 at the rim (!), while for DePaul: 58 points in the paint, 25/32 at the rim.
St. John’s forced 24 turnovers — 30% of DePaul possessions — and lost. “We got turnovers and didn’t do anything with it,” Anderson said after the game. “Never seen so many charges.”
Next for St. John’s is a matchup at Villanova on Tuesday night at 9 PM on CBS Sports.