DePaul blows 13-point lead, falls 92-83 in 2OT to St. John’s


DePaul Athletics | @Barnedeaux

Junior guard Jalen Terry and senior center Nick Ongenda share words during DePaul’s loss to St. John’s at Wintrust Arena Tuesday night.

DePaul suffered a heartbreaking 92-83 double overtime loss to St. John’s on Tuesday night after blowing a 13-point second half lead. With the loss, the Blue Demons’ losing streak reached seven games. 

“I thought our guys competed for 50 minutes and I take full responsibility for this loss,” said head coach Tony Stubblefield. “It’s 100% on me that we weren’t able to pull this game out. I’ve got to do a better job with these guys to finish these games out.”

Ultimately, DePaul couldn’t overcome St John’s sophomore Dylan Addae-Wusu’s 19-point second half surge, which included a game-tying three in the final moment of regulation to force overtime. 

“I don’t think he’s ever seen a shot he didn’t like,” head coach Mike Anderson said of Addae-Wusu game-tying three. “In that particular moment, he got a nice face screen and did the job of knocking it down. I think he looked forward to having an opportunity to do that.”

DePaul started strong, taking an early 20-12 lead which was highlighted by a 9-0 run that forced four St. John’s turnovers. Senior Nick Ongenda’s presence was made known early with his impact on the defensive side of the ball. Just minutes into his season debut, he recorded three blocks and two steals.

Stubblefield’s defense forced nine turnovers in the first half and Ongenda’s defensive presence and rim protection seemed to play a role in the team’s improvements defensively.

“I thought Nick [Ongenda] did a great job,” Stubblefield said. “I wasn’t intending on him to play that many minutes, but with Yor’s [Anei] injury, we were kind of forced into that situation. I thought he did extremely well and he’ll get better and better.”

After missing most of the season due to a wrist injury, Ongenda finally made his way back to the court Tuesday night. He fouled out in overtime, but finished the game with 11 points, six rebounds, two steals and a career-high eight blocks.

“It definitely felt good,” Ongenda said on returning to the court. “I’ve seen them grind all year in practice and I couldn’t wait to come back and play with my brothers again. It was a good experience to go out there and fight with them, so I’m excited for the games that are coming up.”

After heading into halftime with a 39-32 lead, DePaul’s defense got off to a tough start in the second half. St. John’s started off the half on a 10-0 run, while the Blue Demons next score didn’t come until the 16:48 mark.

DePaul’s offense started to find its way back in sync after a couple baskets by graduate forward Javan Johnson. He was locked in from the get go, and finished with a game-high 26 points and a career-best six three-pointers.

It was a back-and-forth matchup for a majority of the second half, but the final minute of the game became chaotic. As DePaul led 76-74 with 29 seconds left, Johnson lost the ball and was stripped by Addae-Wusu who laid it up for the tie.

As the clock was winding down, senior guard Jalen Terry made a deep three-point shot with four seconds remaining to give DePaul a three-point lead, spurring the environment at Wintrust Arena to momentarily turn electric. The Storm had just 4.6 seconds left, down by three. 

Stubblefield decided not to foul and instead trusted his defense. Unfortunately, Addae-Wusu broke off a screen and was wide open in the corner to nail a game-tying three with 0.4 left on the clock. 

Wintrust Arena was silent in disbelief of what had just happened, until members of the crowd screamed “why didn’t they foul?” 

“We thought about it,” Stubblefield said, on if the team considered fouling during the final seconds. “We knew it was going to be a catch and shoot situation for the most part and we didn’t want to foul a guy in the act of shooting. So, we thought about it, but decided against it. So again, that’s on me and I take full responsibility for that.”

Both teams struggled in each of the overtime periods, but St. John’s eventually came out on top. Mike Anderson’s stellar defense held the Blue Demons scoreless during the second overtime, while holding DePaul’s offense to 1-14 shooting between the two overtime periods. 

DePaul was outscored 13-4 between the two overtime periods and St. John’s reached the free throw line 10 times, making eight of them. After Ongenda and graduate guard Umoja Gibson fouled out, there wasn’t enough firepower on offense for the Blue Demons to keep up with the Storm. 

“Every loss hurts,” Johnson said after the game. “This one hurts real bad because we had the game won, but we gotta keep going.”

DePaul (9-17, 3-12) will travel to Cincinnati for a 3 p.m. game against No. 16 Xavier (19-6, 11-3) on Saturday at the Cintas Center. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.