Sunday, March 2, 2014
Rapid Reaction: St. John's 72, DePaul 64
By Kieran Darcy
NEW YORK -- Some quick thoughts on St. John's 72-64 win over DePaul on Saturday at Madison Square Garden:
What it means: St. John's still has a chance of securing an NCAA tournament at-large bid.
The Red Storm had to defeat DePaul in their regular-season home finale -- a loss to the lowly Blue Demons would have doomed their at-large chances. It was too close for comfort (see below), but they got the job done.
St. John's improves to 19-11 overall, and 9-8 in the Big East, but remains in sixth place in the conference. DePaul falls to 11-19, and 3-14 in the Big East.
The turning point: St. John's went ahead by double-digits less than nine minutes in, after a God'sgift Achiuwa dunk made it 14-4. The Red Storm led by as many as 14 in the first half, and 33-21 at intermission. D'Angelo Harrison scored 13 points in the first 20 minutes.
St. John's expanded its lead to 20 for the first time, 45-25, on an Orlando Sanchez three-point play with just over 15 minutes remaining. But DePaul did not pack it in. The Blue Demons clawed all the way back to within three, 57-54, on a R.J. Curington 3-pointer with 4:14 left. But Sir'Dominic Pointer and Chris Obekpa had big blocked shots down the stretch, and a steal and dunk by Phil Greene with 1:57 remaining pushed the lead back to seven, 61-54. The Red Storm put the game away from there.
Star watch: Harrison finished with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. Pointer chipped in 14 points, and Sanchez added 13. Obekpa scored just two points, but had 11 rebounds and five blocks.
Number crunch: St. John's, the leading shot-blocking team in the country, had 14 blocks on Sunday. DePaul had just three.
What's next: St. John's wraps up the regular season at Marquette on Saturday -- another must-win for the Red Storm, in order to have a legitimate chance at an at-large bid. DePaul's final game of the regular season is Thursday -- the Blue Demons will host Butler.