Blue Demons earn first Big East win against St. John’s


Max Strus notched his first double-double as a Blue Demon Saturday at St. John's with 22 points and 10 rebounds. (Konrad Markowski/The DePaulia)

The DePaul basketball team (8-8; 1-3 Big East) exorcised all their demons in a 91-74 victory against St. John’s (10-6; 0-4 Big East) on Saturday afternoon in Queens, N.Y.

Everything that had gone wrong in the Blue Demons eight losses this season finally went right in the win against St. John’s.

The Blue Demons not only held but extended a four-point advantage at halftime, outscoring the Red Storm 49-36 in the second half to escape New York with a 17-point victory.

Four Blue Demons scored in double figures, and nine cracked the scoring column. It was a distinct contrast from the isolation-heavy, stagnant offense that sunk the Blue Demons in several second halves this season. The Blue Demons dished out 17 assists on 30 made field goals and weren’t solely dependent on Max Strus’ offensive wizardry for scoring like they were in long stretches in previous games.

Most importantly, the Blue Demons earned their first Big East Conference win which also doubled as their first win against a power-conference opponent. They put up 91 points against a St. John’s team that led the Big East Conference in scoring defense by only allowing opponents to average 66.7 points per game prior to today.

Graduate senior center Marin Maric poured in a season-high 25 points (7-for-8 from the field; 2-for-2 from 3-point land) to lead all scorers and helped the Blue Demons post a decisive 46-30 advantage on the boards (Maric had 11 rebounds). Strus drained 22 points and had a season-high ten rebounds, while Eli Cain’s 11 points put him at 1,000 points even in his DePaul career.

After taking a 12-point advantage at the 14:10 mark after Maric drained a 3-point field goal before a St. John’s timeout, the Blue Demons  cruised down the stretch for an important 17-point victory.

The Blue Demons spread the wealth around on offense in the first half to grab a four-point lead at halftime. Senior forward Tre’Darius McCallum had nine points to lead all Blue Demon scorers, with Maric, Cain, and Strus close behind with eight points apiece. Four other Blue Demons registered in the scoring column as DePaul shot 48.5 percent in the half.

But the Red Storm stroked in eight 3-pointers on 15 attempts (53.3 percent) to stick around despite losing the first-half rebounding battle 20-12 and surrendering 12 second-chance points off those offensive rebounds.

McCallum helped the Blue Demons jump out to an early 19-15 lead in this game, shooting 4-for-4 from the field through the 11:19 mark in the first half. DePaul extended that advantage to 24-15 by the 9:23 mark behind a 3-point jumper from Cain and a jumper from freshman Jaylen Butz.

A mini run at the end of the first half brought the Red Storm back to within four points going into the halftime locker room, but the Blue Demons 49-point outburst in the second half was too big of a storm for St. John’s to weather.

The Blue Demons return home on Friday to battle Providence. The Friars (11-6; 2-2 Big East) upset No. 5/4 Xavier Musketeers on Saturday afternoon 81-72. The Red Storm will battle Georgetown at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 9.