St. John’s basketball cannot complete heroic second half comeback

St. John's basketball guard Leilani Correa (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Leilani Correa (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s basketball was unable to complete the comeback against No. 22 DePaul. 

There’s no doubt about it, it was ugly early for the St. John’s basketball team in its rematch with No. 22 DePaul (11-4, 8-2 Big East) on Wednesday night.

The Blue Demons dropped 101 points on the Red Storm (5-11, 2-9 Big East) in its first meeting in Chicago, the most points surrendered by the Johnnies this season, and it looked like DePaul was going to do that again after it jumped out to a 16-2 lead in Queens less than four minutes into the game.

However, head coach Joe Tartamella was able to ease his team into the game after an early timeout and St. John’s slowly began to chip away at the lead.

The closest the Red Storm got in the first half was six but trailed by eight, 41-33, going into half-time.

Unfortunately for St. John’s, the deficit remained the same at the end of the game as it was at halftime but the method was very different.

DePaul blitzed the Red Storm in the second half, leading by as many as 20, 62-42, but St. John’s answered with its own punch, cutting the lead to as little as two, 66-64, with eight minutes left in regulation.

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The two teams traded baskets and the Johnnies were within one, 74-73, but the final seven points of the game went in favor of the Blue Demons, winning 81-73.

“I was really proud of our team,” Tartamella said following the loss. The head coach stated that then team had been practicing much better and it showed on the floor despite the defeat.

St. John’s was led by its sophomore star Leilani Correa who went for 33 points, her third straight 30-point outing.

Correa became the first player in program history to record three straight 30-point games on Wednesday night.

The Manchester, New Jersey native ranks third in the Big East Conference in scoring only behind Paige Bueckers (UConn) and Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Seton Hall).

“There’s a lot of adrenaline [running through her body],” Correa said of the feeling that she has when she’s locked in offensively but notes that it would not be possible without her teammates.

St. John’s basketball hits road once again

After playing in its first home game since January 17 because of postponements and cancelations with other programs, St. John’s returns to the road this weekend to face the Butler Bulldogs (1-13, 1-12 Big East).

The Red Storm defeated Butler in Queens back on January 9, 64-56, it’s last victory during the 2020-21 season.

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St. John’s was led by 20 points from Leilani Correa in the victory as well as 17 points from Qadashah Hoppie, who will not be available after season-ending shoulder surgery.

Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00pm EST (Big East Digital Network) inside historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, February 13.