He's not the only one disappointed, as the final minute ticked off the clock on Saturday at Allstate Arena fans were chanting, "Fi-re Jer-ry. Fi-re Jer-ry."
Dar Tucker, Mac Koshwal and Will Walker each scored in double-figures. But it was the Blue Demon defense that cost DePaul the game. D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne each scored 17 points to lead four St. John's players in double-figures. The Red Storm shot over 60 percent from the field in the game, and made seven of 13 three-point shots.
Tucker was the game's leading scorer with 24 points. Koshwal scored a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Nobody blamed the early, 11 a.m., start time on DePaul's slow start, but it sure seemed to have an effect. DePaul only led once in the game, 3-2 just 46 seconds into the first half after a three-point basket by Walker (15 points). After the uplifting moment of having senior Jabari Currie dress and start in his final game at Allstate Arena, the joy quickly vanished as St. John's built an 11-point lead over the game's first five and a half minutes.
"We came out slow and baskets weren't falling," Tucker said. "I think that's what hurt us a lot."
The Blue Demons closed the gap to six points late in the first half, but St. John's closed with a 5-0 run for a 38-27 advantage at the break.
Another one of DePaul's chronic problems throughout the season, guard play, caused heartache for the Blue Demons again on Saturday during the second half. Turnovers and poor defense by DePaul created a cycle that helped St. John's build a 30-point lead, 75-45, with eight minutes remaining.
"When you are trying to work hard on defense and players just keep hitting shots in your face that is kind of frustrating and you kind of lose and slack on your defense, because you're frustrated," Tucker said.
"We didn't execute the things we practiced. … We just got a little bit unglued and played downhill for a while," Wainwright said.
The Blue Demons were pounded inside by the Red Storm. St. John's enjoyed a 40-26 advantage of points in the paint. The frontcourt trio of Kennedy, Sean Evans (15 points) and Rob Thomas (14 points off the bench) combined for 46 points.
Matija Poscic, DePaul's only healthy senior, struggled with foul trouble in the second half. He played just nine second half minutes and finished with two points and five rebounds in his final home game.
The fans were also frustrated. A chorus of boos rained down from the stands whenever Wainwright's name was announced or his image appeared on the scoreboard. This game was one fans had circled as a chance for DePaul to break its drought in the Big East and when it turned into a rout for the Red Storm the frustration mounted.
"Both teams did look at it that way," said St. John's head coach Norm Roberts. "It was an opportunity for us to get a road win and for them to get a home win."
Everything though seemed to go the St. John's way. The Red Storm's shots dropped, their offense was crisper and the defense tighter.
Roberts tried to defend his colleague afterwards. "Make no mistake. Jerry Wainwright can coach," Roberts said. "He's been doing it for a very long time."
For the Blue Demons though it seems like maybe Wainwright's message has stopped getting across to his young team that only includes one senior and one junior currently healthy and playing in the rotation.
"The most disappointing thing for me," Wainwright said. "Is that I haven't been able to convey how important each game is. If you really look at our performances, this year there are a lot of young, not a lot, but there are several, young teams in the league – South Florida, St. John's, ourselves, Rutgers and maybe even Seton Hall – and arguably we've played our worst in all those games."
DePaul sophomore Mario Stula wore a protective mask today while playing with a broken nose.
The Red Storm spoiled DePaul's Senior day. Seniors Jabari Currie and Matija Poscic were honored in a pre-game ceremony. Currie, who's career ended February 9th with a torn meniscus in his left knee received a ceremonial start. After the tip-off, he was immediately substituted for by freshman Jeremiah Kelly.
"They've meant a lot," said DePaul sophomore Dar Tucker. "Matija goes hard every day. I can say he's one of the hardest working people on this team. Ever since he got here he's been working hard."
"Jabari is just a person that keeps the team alive," Tucker shared. "He's quiet, but cracks a smile sometimes. He keeps us laughing all the time. I'll miss both of them."
DePaul's 2009 Hall of Fame class will be inducted this weekend and were introduced at halftime. The 2009 Hall of Fame Class includes men's basketball's David Booth and Stephen Howard, women's basketball's Andrea Morgan Davis, track and field's Major General Stephen Crane and Lorece Collins-White, softball's Susan Coleman Labovic and Jenn Laczynski Schissler and volleyball's Dana Kalvaitis Curta. Former men's basketball secretary Patsy Burns will also be honored with the Dr. Robert Hamilton Special Service Award.
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