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St. John's at DePaul: Three takeaways from the 71-67 loss

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The run at the beginning of the second half did the Red Storm in - and so did D`Angelo Harrison's injury.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After St. John's 71-67 road loss to the DePaul Blue Demons in Chicago, the Red Storm are ninth in the Big East standings, looking up at Marquette, who they face on Wednesday in the Garden.

Yes, the Johnnies fought hard to get the game to overtime; and yes, the final shot in overtime, down two points, was an uncomfortable-looking shot by Chris Obekpa (seven points, three rebounds, two blocks) in traffic.

But control of the game was lost well before those moments.

Yesterday, the Red Storm held an 10-point lead at halftime, but saw the lead trimmed to three in the first five minutes of the half - and two minutes later, the Johnnies were tied, in a "dogfight" as head coach Steve Lavin said after the game.

After that, Billy Garrett Jr. (20 points) was able to influence a chippy and free throw-filled game.

"It wasn't an easy night for Garrett," Lavin said, "but in the end he made the big free throws. I thought when we pressured him the way we wanted to, we came away with good results. But there were too many times where we allowed him to size up individual defenders.

"His ability to navigate his way to the rim and draw fouls is a gift; he's one of the best in college basketball, playing at a pace that allows him to draw fouls. On our end, I think we need to do a better job of sustaining our pressure on him, blitzing some of that ball screen action. In the second half, he was able to get himself to the foul line."

"We just going to get back to the drawing board, try to get a win against Marquette on Wednesday, try to get a win on our home court," said Phil Greene IV.

Added Sir`Dominic Pointer, "I still feel like we have a lot of confidence in this team. I still feel like we've got a long way to go, all we have to do is get back to the drawing board and get back to our winning ways."

D`Angelo Harrison struggled with his injury, unable to carry the Red Storm. Phil Greene IV had one of his best games, but it wasn't enough to stop Billy Garrett Jr. and the shooting of the DePaul Blue Demons.

Three takeaways

One: The DePaul run at the beginning of the second half

"Coming out of the locker room in the first five minutes, DePaul recaptured momentum," Steve Lavin said.

The Demons went 4/5 from beyond the arc in the first five minutes of the second half, and added a shot at the rim off of an offensive rebound - form one of the missed threes. Aaron Simpson had eight of his 13 points in that stretch, while St. John's had three of their six second-half turnovers in that same stretch against DePaul's increased full court pressure.

"It's a big blow to us," Phil Greene IV said. "We had then down at halftime, we didn't come out with a sense of urgency, and they made shots."

DePaul definitely made shots. After going 3/17 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Demons shot 6/10 in the second half, and got to the free throw line 19 times before Rysheed Jordan hit a pair of free throws to send the game to overtime.

Two: Injuries mattered

D`Angelo Harrison's injury clearly affected his play.

Speaking to the media with a bag of ice wrapped tightly around his right knee, Harrison gave no excuses for his performance.

Harrison shot nine free throw attempts in the first half and got off ten shots; in the second half, he only reached the line for three free throws and five shots.

"They double teamed him, they denied him the ball, it's hard to get a rhythm like that," Phil Greene said of Harrison's second half struggle. "They made him work for every catch."

Harrison scored 11 points on 2/10 shooting, and added five rebounds before fouling out.

To a lesser extent, Jamal Branch's injury also affected his play. With his index and middle finger wrapped and taped together on his left hand, Branch at times struggled with dribble security, taking away the one consistent skill he's brought to the Red Storm this year - the ability to be a calming ball handler.

Branch (three points) hit a three-pointer and had two assists in 16 minutes.

Three: Phil Greene did everything he could

Overshadowed by the loss, Phil Greene IV (17 points, five rebounds, three steals, three turnovers) played a good game in front of his friends and family - and was more active than usual, coming hard off screens and probing aggressively. It paid dividends. PG IV scored nine straight points for St. John's late in the first half, and drew four of his six free throw attempts in the second half.

Greene shot more than two free throws in a game for the first time since the Franklin Pierce game, the second game of the season for St. John's. And being a good foul shooter, Greene added six points and helped pick up some of the slack from D`Angelo Harrison.

Notes

  • Freshman Amar Alibegovic tied for the team lead with five rebounds - also achieved by Greene and Harrison. Alibegovic was physical once again, battling DePaul's burly post Rashaun Stimage and stretch-four Forrest Robinson.

  • Rysheed Jordan started for the second straight game - this time, not because of Branch's injury. he had 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and four turnovers.

  • St. John's held DePaul to a woeful 0.54 points per possession in the first half - but gave up 1.30 points per possession in the second half and overtime. DePaul took 59% of their shots from beyond the arc.

  • DePaul also got to 54% of their misses in the second half (46% if including overtime).

  • Sir`Dominic Pointer added 10 points and two assists before fouling out.