DePaul's 5 Game Win Streak Ends at St. John's

There is an old addage in baseball that says momentum is as only good as the next days's pitcher. Let's substitute the word pitcher for opponent, and DePaul's opponent on Wednesday night, the St.John's Red Storm, was the momentum killer that took the sails out of DePaul's cruising ship defeating the Blue Demons 64-53 before a crowd of 5,055.

DePaul, who came in finishing their non-conference schedule with five wins in a row, shot themselves in the foot due to some uncharacteristically horrid shooting. DePaul which shot at least 40% (eclipsing over 50% in four contests) in all seven December wins shot a measly 32.8% against the Red Storm. But it was the brutal showing at the charity stripe that did DePaul in. In what was a close game, DePaul could not gain any momentum in missing free throw after free throw in the second half. They ended up shooting 52% from the line on the night, but the second stanza told the whole story. DePaul shot four of 15 from the line in a game that could have been won into a double-digit loss.

"There's no defense for free throws," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright explained. "I was excited that we got 15 free throws in the second half, but they're like turnovers when you miss them. They (St. John's) would make a basket, we get fouled. We'd either make one or miss both, thats just like a turnover, and that's probably the story of the game from our viewpoint."

In the first half, it was an evenly paced game with both teams making their runs to take control. Momentum looked like it would stay on DePaul's side with the Blue Demons jumping out to a 14-4 lead punctuated by a Will Walker three pointer. St.John's then settled down after a timeout and got Lamont Hamilton the ball and he subsequently scored to put an end to DePaul's run. Then, when DePaul switched to zone, St.John's capitalized drilling a few three pointers to bring it down to working margin. The biggest three of which came from Anthony Mason Jr., with three seconds before half to tie the game at 28.

That was all the momentum the Red Storm needed.

St.John's started the second half scoring the first five points to get the crowd into the game. Then, Wainwright sensing the starters weren't executing up to par, called a timeout and made wholesale substitutions and brought in a fresh group of players. The second unit was up to the task, as on the next possession Cliff Clinkscales drained a three to narrow the lead back down to two.

"In all honesty, I was angry at their (the starters) body language," Wainwright explained. "That five point spurt made us climb uphill all second half. I think we didn't execute what we drew on the board. Those five guys are good kids, but when you have breakdown like that, you need to let the other kids know that it can't be tolerated."

Wainwright would eventually need the services of his stars and got it from Wilson Chandler. DePaul then would fight their way back to take a 46-44 lead on a Chandler alley-oop from Sammy Mejia. But, St.John's was not to be denied and they clamped up on defense and forged ahead 54-47 with 4:17 to go.

Despite DePaul missing several opportunities at the line, the game was within reach all the way down to the last minute. Then Daryll Hill hit a trifecta with 45 seconds to go and put the dagger into the Demon's hearts to take a 59-52 lead. Then St.John's converted on what DePaul couldn't do and nailed five free throws to clinch the game and end with an 11 point victory.

"There's not much I can say," Wainwright said. "The quality of shots we had and missed is not indicative of the way we have been playing. It was one of those days, and coupled with what happened at the free throw line in the second half and we were still gasping, hanging in and then that young man Hill hit a big-time H-O-R-S-E shot there. You can get a lot of wins on the playground with a shot like that."

Despite an 11 point victory, St.John's did not have a double-digit scorer. Lamont Hamilton and Hill led St.John's with nine points apiece. Perhaps most impressive for St.John's was the play of guard Eugene Lawrence. Lawrence had eight points, eight assists, and a whopping game high 14 rebounds.

"They got really good leadership from Eugene,'' Wainwright said of Lawrence. "He held their team down and I thought he did a really good job of leading.''

For DePaul, the Demons were paced by Chandler's 15 points. With the victory, St.John's is now 10-4 overall and 1-0 in the Big East. DePaul is now 9-6 overall and 0-1 in the Big East.

Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information

DePaul has now lost six straight conference openers.

DePaul's offense suffered season lows in field goal percentage (.328), three-point field goal percentage (.143), three-pointers made (2), three-pointers attempted (14) and assists (seven).

The loss snapped DePaul's five-game winning streak.

It was the first time all season that DePaul has lost when it attempted more free throws than its opponent.

Official Box Score

Postgame Audio

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