Jasmine Penny extended her streak of scoring 20 or more points to five straight games and Chanise Jenkins scored a career-high 21 points, but DePaul (11-5, 2-2 Big East) fell to St. John's 96-86 at McGrath-Phillips Arena Saturday afternoon.
And even with the Red Storm owning a near double digit lead midway through the second half, and DePaul scoring a season-high 62 points in the second half, this contest was decided in the opening minutes of each half.
"I started talking to our players after the game from the backwards forwards because the first five or six minutes of the game was probably where we got beat tonight," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.
St. John's (10-5, 3-1 Big East) opened up a 14-6 lead on a Jade Walker lay up with five minute gone in the game.
Penny's field goal cut the lead to 14-9, but DePaul then went almost four minutes without scoring, down 20-9 at the halfway mark. Briana Brown's lay up extended the lead to 30-16 with 7:32 left. Penny then pulled the Blue Demons to 30-24 before the Red Storm scored the final six points of the half.
Penny scored a game-high 23 points to go along with five rebounds, four blocked shots, and two steals.
DePaul's 24 first half points was its lowest output this year. The Blue Demons shot 29 percent from the field in the first half. DePaul's Brittany Hrynko picked up her second foul at 17:41, and she played just six minutes in the first half.
St. John's is now 7-1 when leading at the half. It shot 52 percent from the field in the opening stanza.
Hrynko and the Red Storm's Amber Thompson (13 points and 10 rebounds) each picked up their third foul three minutes into the second half. That situation proved to be a bigger detriment for DePaul as St. John's started the second half 12-12 from the field and opened up its largest lead of the game at 60-41 with 13:21 left to play.
"We could not make a stop in the second half to save our lives," said Bruno.
Penny spoke about her mentality when confronted with that big of a deficit: "You have to keep going on offensive, but we did not do a good job on defense, so it was more of getting a stop. We need to do a better job defensively as a team."
The Red Storm scored the most points in the paint (60), the most second chance points (23), and the most second half points (61) by a DePaul opponent this year.
"We finally went back to doing what I thought we had to do when I was thinking about my team in the off season," said Bruno. "We are probably going to have to run up the floor and chase people."
And chase they did, employing a full court press that forced three turnovers in the next four minutes. A three-pointer by Jenkins and a basket by Centrese McGee sparked a 10-0 DePaul run and left the Blue Demons trailing just 62-53 at 9:43.
Hrynko ended with 13 points and seven assists, all of her points coming in the final 5:05. Her blocked pass and subsequent lay up cut the lead to 81-70 with 3:06 left.
She has now scored 1,031 points at DePaul, good for 27th all-time.
St. John's shot 60 percent from the field (35-58) compared to DePaul's 50 percent (33-66).
The Red Storm is No. 24 in Division I in three-point field goal percentage defense at 26 percent and it held DePaul to that number (5-19) tonight.
Aliyyah Handford led St. John's with 21 points.
"This is a defeat that we can recover from, and I think the players need to walk out of here knowing that," said Bruno.
DePaul travels to play at Seton Hall on January 14 before returning home to host Villanova on January 19. The Villanova game starts at 2:00 CST and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
- DePaul now leads the series 6-4.
- DePaul is now 2-5 this year when opponents shoot a higher field goal percentage
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