DePaul was playing their fourth game in the last nine days—including three road games—and fatigue down the stretch may have played a factor; although DePaul coach Dave Leitao said afterwords he would not blame their performance on fatigue.
The Blue Demons used a 21-14 run midway through the first half to tie up the game at 29 with 4:51 to go in the game. St. John's would then respond with a decisive 11-0 run to end the half.
DePaul never really did recover after that.
Most of the second stanza saw the Red Storm hold close to a double-digit lead before a Billy Garrett Jr. three pointer with 6:05 to go trimmed St. John's lead to seven. From there, St. John's got two three pointers from Malik Ellison and some crowd-pleasing dunks to all but vanquish any momentum DePaul was gaining.
In the end, St. John's outshot DePaul 45.5 percent to 40.7 percent from the field. But the main difference in the game, and many games for DePaul this season, was that the Red Storm shot 54.5 percent from three-point range (12-22), while the Blue Demons shot 35.7 percent (5-14) from beyond the arc.
Leitao once again lamented the fact that his team could not bring a consistent effort.
“(In a game like this), somebody is going to come with a little more intent,” Leitao said. “The game is going to go on, there is going to be runs and the teams are going to make mistakes. Through it all, if you do repetitive actions you'll be OK. I think St. John's did a better job.”
“The game was tied at 29 and that gap to get it to 40-29 at halftime created more problems.” Leitao added. “We had a mountain to climb. Now we've done that before (coming back from double-digits in the second half), but we can't live like that.”
For the first time this season, Leitao used only seven players for the entire game. The usual starters, as well as freshmen Levi Cook and Devin Gage got all the playing time.
As a result, DePaul had four players score in double figures. Garrett led DePaul with 16 points, while Eli Cain went for 15 points. Cain, though, still finds himself in a slump as he shot 3-11 from the field. Although he did add six assists.
Tre'Darius McCallum had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while adding two steals and two blocks. Joe Hanel also had a solid game for himself, scoring 12 points (on 6-7 shooting) and pulling down five rebounds.
DePaul had just six bench points (SJU had 22), which Gage scoring all of those points.
Leitao said it was not a conscious decision to go just seven deep.
“The way the game was being played out, I was more comfortable with the seven (players) I was playing,” Leitao said. “They were pressuring us on makes, so I rode them.”
St. John's got a career-high 23 points from Ellison. He shot 7-10 from the field, including going 5-6 from three-point range, while chipping in four assists. Bashir Ahmed (14), Shamorie Ponds (14) and Tariq Owens (10) also scored in double-figures for St. John's.
After a stressful trip that saw the Demons play three road games in nine days, the Demons will now have four days off and play next at home Saturday against No. 13 Butler.null