After closing out their home-stand with a win, the St. John’s Red Storm (11-7, 3-3) headed out to Chicago to face the DePaul Blue Demons (10-8, 1-4.)
D’Angelo Harrison has not been chipping in at his usual offensive rate, averaging just 7.5 points in his last two games. DePaul would look to continue that trend if they hoped to defeat St. John’s.
The Storm hit their first three shots of the game, a far cry from their recent early game struggles. The steady offense gave St. John’s an 8-4 lead 3 minutes in.
DePaul at one point had missed ten straight field-goals. Fortunately for the Blue Demons however, the Storm were not hitting many shots either, getting 8 of their 14 points from Jamal Branch. With 13 to go in the first, St. John’s led 14-10.
After shooting 0-6 from three, the Blue Demons finally hit a shot from downtown. That three pointer tied the game at 19 points apiece with 9 minutes left in the half.
Neither team found much of a groove as the half wound down, with the lone highlight coming from Jamee Crocket who had a dunk and a floater, both over Chris Obekpa. The teams remained tied with 4 minutes to go, 29-29.
Crocket continued dominating the Storm in the paint, adding another dunk and an ally-oop slam to give the Blue Demons the lead. With a minute to play D’Angelo Harrison got his first two points of the game, thus taking the lead back at 35-33.
St. John’s would maintain that 35-33 advantage going into halftime. Branch had 14 of his career high 18 points in the first while Sir’Dom Pointer added 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
“I just let the game come to me and took all the shots that I had.” Jamal Branch said of his effort. “We’re a young squad, just learning and maturing each game.”
Pointer had the lone St. John’s points in the first 4 minutes of the second half. As a result, DePaul was able to take a 39-37 lead.
Things would turn around quickly however, and following an Obekpa block the Red Storm went on an 10-0 run. With 14 to go in the game, St. John’s led 47-39.
Moses Morgan would end the run with a three, but a quick bounce pass from Jamal Branch going the other way to Harrison would get St. John’s going again.
DePaul was able to get within six points of the St. John’s lead, but another quick 11-0 run for the Storm gave them their big lead right back. Chris Obekpa finished the run with a huge dunk off of a pump fake followed by a steal and a layup. With 7 to go in the game, the Storm led 63-46.
St. John’s got a little sloppy following their spurt, with six turnovers in just two minutes. That allowed the Blue Demons to cut into the Red Storm lead, with 4 to go they trailed 63-53.
Jamee Crocket then hit two three pointers to get DePaul within six once again. With 3 to go the St. John’s lead was just 65-59.
Moses Morgan got the Blue Demons within one score after hitting a three of his own, but D’Angelo Harrison hit two free throws to give St. John’s a five point lead.
Harrison would hit the line again with a minute to play, making one of two and giving the Red Storm a 68-62 lead. St. John’s would hold on and win it by a final 71-62.
Sir’Dom Pointer would finish the afternoon with an 11 rebound, 14 point double double. D’Angelo Harrison had 13 of his 15 points in the second half, to go with 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
“It was a big time win, we played a collective overall game.” JaKarr Sampson, who contributed 10 points said. “We had an all around good game with everyone contributing.”
The Red Storm will look to extend their winning streak to three when they head to Rutgers January 23 to face the Scarlet Knights.