DePaul men’s basketball jumped out to a hot start in their game against St. John’s on Sunday, but the Blue Demons (7-8, 0-2 Big East) could not hold on as they fell to the Red Storm (8-7, 2-0 Big East) 79-73.
St. John’s sophomore guard Marcus LoVett led the game with 22 points, while sophomore guard Eli Cain led DePaul with 18. Junior forward Tre’Darius McCallum was one rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“Obviously I’m not real happy with what transpired in the second half,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “At halftime, one of the major adjustments was to continue to play well. We were playing well defensively but, like I said before the game, (St. John’s) likes to score, they’re high octane and they kept bringing the ball to us.”
The Blue Demons looked like a new team in the new year at the beginning. They rraced out to a 7-0 lead before St. John’s called a timeout, then extended their lead to 17-5 before the Red Storm started to come back. When DePaul led 24-16 with 9:21 to go in the half, St. John’s went on an 11-0 run over the next couple of minutes to gain the lead. DePaul, with the help of graduate senior Chris Harrison Docks coming off the bench, took the lead back and went up 40-33 at the break.
Both Harrison Docks and Cain had nine points for the Blue Demons at halftime, while sophomore Marcus LoVett led the game with ten. LoVett played a major part in the second half as DePaul’s lead slipped away.
“As the game went on, we weren’t as aggressive,” Leitao said. “We weren’t as mentally locked in.”
In the second half, the Red Storm cut into the lead and eventually tied it up with just under 12 minutes to go. This is where St. John’s took control of the game and went down the stretch to lead by as much as seven. The Blue Demons came close to getting back on level terms but could not seal the deal and ended up falling 79-73.
“We didn’t bring as much energy at the start of the second half,” senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. said. “First four minutes of the half we were kind of dead. We didn’t defend as well as we needed to.”
LoVett had 12 points in the second half for the Red Storm and exploited the holes in the DePaul defense by driving into the lane. Garrett said the Blue Demons weren’t staying in their lanes on defense as well in the second half, which allowed Lovett and the Red Storm to go on the attack.
“You can’t let a guard do that, let alone a good guard,” Garrett said.
With the win, St. John’s improved to 2-0 in the conference, which includes a home win over No. 13 Butler. DePaul dropped their fourth game in a row with this loss and get the week off from games before heading to Seton Hall on Saturday.