St. John’s cut a 15-point deficit down to four in the final minute of play, but the late run ultimately fell short, 88-83, against DePaul on Saturday in Queens.
DePaul (4-10, 2-10 BIG EAST) shot a season-high 63.0 percent on the game, including a 4-for-8 effort from deep, and outscored St. John’s, 58-18, in the paint. Charlie Moore, who had missed the last two games with injury, scored a team-high 24 points and dished out eight assists for the Blue Demons.
Julian Champagnie scored a game-high 29 points on 9-of-21 shooting and grabbed seven boards for St. John’s (14-9, 8-8 BIG EAST), which lost at home to an unranked opponent for just the second time this season.
Isaih Moore scored seven of his 16 points at the free throw line and grabbed six boards. The junior big man from Columbia, S.C., netted 13 of his points after the break.
Dylan Addae-Wusu and Vince Cole also finished in double figures, tallying 13 and 10 points, respectively.
St. John’s dominated the offensive glass, but was only able to turn 18 boards into 13 second-chance points.
The Red Storm forced DePaul into 24 turnovers, but converted those extra possessions into only 26 points. St. John’s, which ranked seventh in the country in steals per game entering the weekend, recorded 11 thefts.
St. John’s started slow out of the gate, as the Blue Demons jumped out to a 9-3 lead on a Pauly Paulicap old-fashioned three-point play with just over three minutes gone in the game.
St. John’s responded with eight straight take an 11-9 edge, but the lead was short-lived. Ahead 16-14 followed a Champagnie trey, St. John’s saw DePaul embark on a 15-3 to move ahead by 10, 29-19, with 9:11 to go in the half.
From there, the Johnnies slowly chipped into the DePaul lead, using a 16-6 run to tie the game at 37 on a pair of Cole free throws with 1:47 to go in the half.
St. John’s briefly retook the lead, 40-39, but DePaul scored the final bucket of the half to take a one-point lead into the intermission.
DePaul found it hard to miss in the early going of the second half while St. John’s struggled to find any offensive rhythm. The Blue Demons opened on a 21-7 run to take a 15-point lead, its largest of the game, with 10:29 to play. St. John’s went nearly five minutes without a point during the spurt, allowing DePaul to score 11 unanswered between the 18:38 and 15:06 marks.
Trailing by that same 15-point margin, 66-51, with 8:20 to play, St. John’s rattled off an 8-0 to make it a seven-point game, 66-59, on a pair of Champagnie free throws with 6:04 to go.
DePaul would get its lead back to double digits, but Moore drained a three and made two free throws to pull St. John’s within five, 72-67, with just under four minutes to play.
The Red Storm managed to get within four with 40 seconds to play, but could not get any closer as DePaul held on for an 88-83 win.
The Johnnies return to action on Tuesday, traveling to No. 10/7 Villanova for an 8 p.m. contest with the Wildcats. St. John’s, which topped Villanova earlier this month at Carnesecca Arena, will look to complete a regular season sweep of its longtime BIG EAST foe for the first time since 1992-93.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“First of all, let’s give credit to DePaul, I thought that they played with a little more sense of urgency. They came in with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It started with the opening tip. We had a chance to control the tip and they came up with it, and everything seemed like we were working uphill. Not only that, we always talk about our defense and how our defense has come along, but I thought tonight our defense was non-existent and not like we have been playing. It wasn’t until we got down real deep and started digging in. For the first 20 minutes, I thought that they controlled the game, even in the second half. They brought the energy, they brought the toughness, you could see it. The points in the paint, that is where they won the game. We turned them over, but we didn’t do anything with those turnovers. … We didn’t do our job in terms of defending our home court. Let’s give them credit, though. I thought Charlie [Moore] was instrumental in what they did. Again, you could tell by the effort plays because they got all the loose balls. We have to learn from it, we just have to learn from it.”
On why the team didn’t have their best game tonight…
“I think our guys wanted to. I just thought that it seemed like as we started in the game there was no rhythm. We weren’t in sync offensively or defensively. We made some shots early on, but I just didn’t see us executing like we have been. I thought we were a little stagnant. Who knows, but I was disappointed. I thought that we would come out and give a better performance. Sometimes you get looking ahead. We played these guys before, and I warned our guys that they were much better than the last time that we played them earlier. I just saw them play Seton Hall and they were in position to win that game. Let’s give Coach Leitao credit for having his team prepared.”
On if the attention surrounding the team may have contributed to the loss…
“There is a lot of stuff that can contribute to that, but I just know that my job as a coach is to try and keep them in the moment. But they are human, they are kids, and sometimes you read the clippings, but then people show up to play you. St. John’s, with how we are playing, people are going to come at you a little harder. DePaul came back and punched us. It was only a one-point game at halftime, but even then we gave them a little bit of a lead coming out of halftime. I thought in the second half, they did a better job over the first five minutes.”
On the points in the paint differential…
“I thought they just attacked us and we didn’t move our feet. We always talk about building a wall and even when we attacked them, they built a wall in there with their defense and that is why ended up getting charges. We didn’t do a good enough job executing offensively and I thought they came with the mindset that they were going to attack us, and we didn’t do a good job of adjusting.”
Sophomore forward Julian Champagnie
On what may have contributed to the loss…
“It’s upsetting, but we’re not going to lay down. We have to battle and that’s it. You’ve got to move on. Next game we play Villanova on the road which we have to win now, regardless. We are not going to sit here and cry about it.”
On what was missing tonight…
“Our toughness, that is what it comes down to. There is no real explanation for it. They came out and they played harder, they wanted it more.”
On whether the defense was good enough tonight…
“No, not all. We let up 88 points, so no it’s not. The defense was not up to par today, obviously.”
On the team’s energy…
“We kind of picked up our energy too late in the game. We knew what had been going on before that we were down the whole game, but that timeout [when the team was down 14 points] was where we were like we have to pick it up and make something happen.”
On Coach Anderson’s message after the game…
“Be ready for practice tomorrow, that’s all I can really say. … He just told us that it happens, we got ‘out-toughed’ which is what everybody knows, and to be ready for practice tomorrow because we play on Tuesday.”
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