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DePaul loses to St. John's on the road

In what was mostly a sloppy affair between two teams at the bottom of the Big East in DePaul and St. John's, it was the Red Storm (8-19, 1-13) who pulled away in the second half to garner their first Big East win of the season, as they beat the Blue Demons (8-17, 2-11), 80-65, on Wednesday.

Thus, this ends St. John's 16-game losing streak.

After an ugly first half in which neither team showed much of an offensive rhythm, St. John's went into the break with a 31-24 lead. The Johnnies built their lead mostly by getting hot from deep early and hitting four three pointers. Meanwhile, DePaul came up empty behind the arc (0-6 from three-point range) in the first half.

Once the second half started, though, it initially appeared DePaul was determined to make up for a bad first half. The Blue Demons would open up the second stanza by scoring the first eight points, and regaining the lead 32-31. In that time the Demons would attack the basket and feed off fast break chances.

However, Chris Mullin and his Red Storm would not be denied on this night; not on their home court. Mullin would make some key substitutions and once he did that, it was all downhill for the Demons.

St. John's would respond with a 15-3 run to get all the breathing room it needed to seize control of the game. DePaul would attempt a late rally and cut a one-time 20-point lead down to 8 when Billy Garrett Jr., who tweaked his knee just before halftime, hit a three-pointer with 1:34 to go in the game.

A technical foul on the next play by Darrick Wood, who argued with the officials, halted the momentum the Demons were enjoying at the moment. St. John's freshman guard Federico Mussini would hit both technical free throws and from there, it became a free-throw contest and the Red Storm made enough to win going away.

After the game, DePaul coach Dave Leitao was left wondering what went wrong, especially after a strong start to the second half.

“We came out and forced their hands (in the second half) and Chris made some substitutions and they counter punched us,” Leitao said. “After that we didn't respond like we needed to. We found ourselves playing from behind and its really hard on the road playing from behind. We have to give credit to (St. John's), cause every game they played in, they played really hard. I was very worried that this was a game they would earmark that they could be successful in. They played hard and as a result they played well.”

DePaul shot just 36.1 percent from the field for the game, and a woeful 21.1 percent from three-point range. Conversely, St. John's did not shoot that much better, connecting on 44.1 percent of its shots.

However, the Red Storm got the baskets when they needed them, especially in the second half. The Red Storm shot a blistering 56.5 percent in the second half. With each shot the Johnnies made in the second half, they got a little bit more confident and that confidence ultimately  carried them past the finish line.

On the bright side for the Blue Demons, DePaul freshman Eli Cain had a career night. He scored a game and career-high 25 points on 9-16 shooting from the field.

While Cain struggled out of the gate, he picked it up in the second half by attacking the basket with reckless abandon. While it was in vain, his aggressiveness got DePaul back in the game late.

“I was on him early because I thought he wasn't playing with the energy that he usually does,” Leitao said of Cain's performance. “He understands me and I understand him and it allows him to play with some freedom and to get lost in the game. It's a shame because to have a performance like that from a young guy, you want to support that with performances from guys around him.”

Garrett was second on the team in scoring with 14 points, as he was the only other Blue Demon in double figures. After the game Garret said he played through the knee pain and that it limited his mobility.

“I pulled something outside of my leg,” Garret said. “It was hard to put weight on it, but I think I'll be alright.”

It was also a bad night for the Demons' leading scorer and rebounder Myke Henry, as he scored just five points on 2-8 shooting, while only grabbing four rebounds.

For the Red Storm, they had four players score in double figures with Durand Johnson's 18 points leading the way. Federico Mussini had 17 points off the bench, while Kassoum Yakwe and Malik Ellison each chipped in with 11 points.

DePaul's next game is Saturday at home against bitter rival Marquette, a team it has already beaten on the road in thrilling fashion this season.

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