UPDATED: DePaul men’s basketball secures two point win over St. John’s 77-75

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Before facing St. John’s, DePaul men’s basketball head coach Oliver Purnell told his team it was time to make a statement win at home.

The team, of course, was coming off a big road win over Butler in double overtime, which was DePaul’s first road conference win in over a year.  It had been even longer Š—ê 2008 to be exact – that the Blue Demons earned consecutive conference wins.

Purnell’s team listened.

Four Blue Demons notched double figures and DePaul (10-8, 2-3) picked up its second Big East win in a row Tuesday with a 77-75 win over St. John’s (9-7, 0-4).  Freshman Billy Garrett Jr. led the team with 21 points and Cleveland Melvin had a career-high six blocks.

“This was obviously a huge win for us,” Purnell said. “It’s early in Big East play, but we need to take care of our home court. “

The win was far from easy for the Blue Demons, but the team answered in the final minutes.  Melvin hit a go-ahead bucket to give DePaul a 76-75 lead with 2:09 remaining.

Melvin finished with 16 points, 13 of them coming in the second half.

“I thought again Cleve’ hung in there,” Purnell said. “He didn’t score 30, but he hung in there when he was struggling. He came up big for us down the stretch with a couple of defensive stops and a couple of baskets. His performance was indicative of the entire team – we just kind of hung in there.”

St. John’s had a four-point lead, 74-70, with 4:35 left.  The Blue Demons, who faced an 11-point deficit with three minutes to go at Butler, again stayed together and made stops on defense.

The Red Storm went 0-5 after Melvin’s basket and only scored one point, a Rysheed Jordan free throw, in that stretch.

“It’s a maturation process,” said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin. “Sometimes you’re just in a little bit of a hurry. Other times we did get a turnover and a good look. We just missed. So now you have a number of empty possessions. I think it’s part of evolution of a team.”

St. John’s finished the game shooting 47 percent (28-59) and 50 percent from three (7-14).  The Blue Demons, though, outrebounded the Red Storm 38-32, including 17-10 in offensive rebounds.  DePaul also made a season-high 84 percent (21-25) of their free throws.

The game went into halftime tied at 38.

In the second half, DePaul went on a 7-0 run, putting the Blue Demons ahead 64-57. During that timeframe, St. John’s Sir’Dominic Pointer was called for technical foul for a hard foul on Brandon Young.

Young finished the night with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.

“I knew that we were going to go on a run after that because we got into St. John’s head,” Young said. “I wasn’t really focused on that. I was just focused on the next play to get us going.”

St. John’s would answer back with an 11-3 run, in large due to junior guard D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison led the team with 24 points. He returned one game after suffering a concussion.

Still, DePaul hung in there. The Red Storm went scoreless in the last three minutes of the game.

“We’re seeing more and more of that,” Purnell said. “We saw that at Northwestern when they made that dagger shot with five seconds to play. We saw that obviously at Butler. We saw it again tonight when they were down four. They had every reason to be ‘Woe is Me’ at that point, but you don’t see that in the faces of our guys.

“Hopefully that’s a permanent kind of thing,” Purnell said. “It shows growth in our team.”