DePaul edges out St. John’s to improve to 5-0 in Big East play

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Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Lexi Held drives into the lane during the first half against St. John’s.

The DePaul women’s basketball team looked to continue on the strong start to Big East play with speedy St. John’s coming into town on Sunday. After a poor second and third offensive quarter, the Blue Demons poured it on late in the fourth to nab a 74-69 win.

Everybody was feeling it early in the first half as the teams started 6-for-8 from deep as the two Big East favorites went shot-for-shot in the opening quarter. Yet a quick run had DePaul in early control up 24-15 with just over a minute remaining. Chante Stonewall and Sonya Morris combined for 17 of the first 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Challenging DePaul to a shooting contest doesn’t bode well for opposing teams.

DePaul closed the opening quarter on a 9-0 run over a four-minute stretch capped off by a Dee Bekelja second-chance layup. 12 points in the paint padded by a 14-7 rebounding advantage to go with the success from deep put the Blue Demons up 26-15 after ten minutes.

That cushion would serve well for DePaul as they started 1-for-6 from the field in the second quarter. Head coach Doug Bruno called a timeout to stop a 6-0 run for St. John’s that was fueled by six quick points from Alissa Alston and Alisha Kebbe.

Out of the timeout, St. John’s would strike again to make it 28-24. Morris would hit a 3-pointer with Deja Church grabbing a tough rebound for more second-chance points to pull back ahead. A 1-0f-8 shooting drought kept DePaul from pulling forward. St. John’s would cut it back down to 33-31 with 2:20 left in the half.

Alston and Leilani Correa had 17 combined in the second quarter to pace a St. John’s guard-heavy attack. For DePaul, Sonya Morris had 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead in each category. DePaul would go into the break with a 40-34 lead.

St. John’s speedy guard play gave DePaul fits all afternoon. DePaul went from their usual press to a zone in the halfcourt. Both teams went at each other in the third quarter in a physical game. After five minutes, both teams had just four points in the quarter before St. John’s pulled the game within four at 44-40 with four minutes to go. Over a minute later, it was just a one-point game.

Alissa Alston would hit a three to make it a 50-47 St. John’s lead. DePaul did not score a field goal over the last 6:44 of the third quarter. The Blue Demons were 2-of-13 in the quarter.

Qadasha Hoppie hit a three to open up the second half to pad the advantage, but two free throws from Lexi Held kept DePaul within one score. Three minutes later, Stonewall would tie the game on two free-throws.

A big part of St. John’s playstyle is their ability to hold onto the ball. DePaul has forced teams to over 20 turnovers in each of their first four Big East games. St. John’s only committed 10 turnovers in the game.

Deja Church would regain the lead for DePaul on two free throws with three minutes left. DePaul had just two fouls to St. John’s eight over the first seven minutes of the quarter.

Church struck again late in the game as her driving layup gave DePaul a 69-64 lead with 54.2 seconds remaining. As St. John’s turned to intentionally fouling, DePaul was forced to hit free throws. Stonewall missed two and the Red Storm got the ball back with 18.2 seconds remaining down 71-67. Alston was called upon but missed a layup that was wrestled down by Kelly Campbell.

Campbell would seal the game with two free throws with 2.2 seconds left on the clock and DePaul won 74-69.