St. John’s basketball suffers back-breaking loss against DePaul

St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s basketball suffers crushing loss for NCAA Tournament hopes against DePaul. 

It wasn’t a ‘must-win’ for the St. John’s basketball team. It was a ‘can’t lose’.

But the Johnnies (14-9, 8-8 Big East) could’t defeat the lowly DePaul Blue Demons (4-10, 2-10 Big East) at home, 88-83.

“This is one of those games you get caught looking ahead,” head coach Mike Anderson said following the loss.

DePaul welcomed back Preseason First Team All-Big East selection Charlie Moore and he dazzled on Saturday night in Queens, ending with 24 points, six rebounds, and eight assists on 8-of-13 shooting.

St. John’s settled for way too many jump shots and were dominated in paint, 58-18.

The Johnnies shot 33.8-percent from the field and 36.4-percent from three-point rage while DePaul got any look it wanted against the Red Storm defense, shooting 63.0-percent from the floor and 50.0 from downtown.

Julian Champagnie led St. John’s with 29 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

“It’s upsetting, it’s a bad loss,” the sophomore explained.

Senior point guard Rasheem Dunn had been instrumental in the team’s midseason turnaround but struggled against DePaul, finishing with just seven points on 1-of-10 shooting and six turnovers.

Posh Alexander also didn’t have his best night with five points on 2-of-9 shooting.

The Johnnies forced DePaul into 24 turnovers, but that resulted in just 24 points for the Red Storm.

The Blue Demons led by as many as 15 points midway through the second half as St. John’s cut the lead to five with 3:51 to play but could not string together the consecutive stops and scores it needed to complete the comeback.

St. John’s basketball NCAA Tournament hopes severely impacted

A win against DePaul would have done very little for the Red Storm’s NCAA Tournament chances but a loss hurts the team tremendously.

St. John’s now has losses against Marquette, Butler, Georgetown, and DePaul on its resume, the bottom four teams in the Big East Conference.

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Now, is there a chance for the Johnnies still to earn an at-large bid? Of course, but it all starts on Tuesday night against No. 10 Villanova (14-3, 9-2 Big East).

“We have to win now,” Champagnie said of his team’s next game.

St. John’s defeated then No. 3 Villanova on February 3 in Queens, 70-59.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00pm EST (CBS Sports Network) inside the Finneran Pavilion.