St. John’s basketball overwhelms DePaul in Big East Tournament

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

The St. John’s basketball team overwhelmed DePaul in the Big East Tournament. 

It was an ugly start for the St. John’s basketball team inside Madison Square Garden.

DePaul made its first three shots from the field and jumped out to a 12-2 lead.

It was reminiscent of the Blue Demons scoring 99 points in 40 minutes against the Johnnies two weeks ago in Chicago.

Then, Mike Anderson called timeout and St. John’s outscored DePaul 47-17 for the remainder of the half.

“I thought we were playing soft,” Anderson explained of his team in the first five minutes.

But they would toughen up quickly.

Julian Champagnie led the charge in the opening stanza with 22 points as the star junior forward ended the night with 26 points.

“It’s unbelievable to watch and you’ve got to make sure, as his teammate, to get him the ball. And we did a really good job doing that,” Stef Smith said of Champagnie’s performance.

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DePaul (15-16, 6-14 Big East) never threatened at a potential comeback in the second half as the Johnnies (17-14, 8-11 Big East) rolled to a 92-73 victory, which will set up a date with No. 2 seed Villanova on Thursday night.

“We’ve got to hang our hats on our defense this time of year,” Anderson added.

Posh Alexander controlled the game despite only having eight points and seven rebounds but St. John’s got contributions from up-and-down its roster on this night.

Stef Smith added 13 points to the winning cause while Esahia Nyiwe put together 10 points and nine rebounds.

Every Red Storm player that saw the floor scored except O’Mar Stanley, who was limited to five minutes after appearing to injury his lower leg in the first half.

St. John’s finished the game with just two turnovers, its fewest amount in a game in at least 15 years.

St. John’s basketball trying to slay the dragon

Villanova defeated St. John’s in both regular season meetings this season and the results were mixed.

The Johnnies were never out of the game in Finneran Pavilion but a late charge got the Red Storm somewhat back into things before the Wildcats pulled away to win by a comfortable margin.

St. John’s was then dealt a brutal blow when Villanova came to Madison Square Garden as injuries were he main concern for both teams. The Wildcats saw Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore active while Posh Alexander sat for the Johnnies and Julian Champagnie sustained multiple injuries in the outing.

The Red Storm looked to be dead before a sudden bolt brought the team to within three points and chance to tie the game in the final seconds before Tareq Coburn’s shot bounced out.

“It’s exciting. Every game is exciting,” Champagnie said of tomorrow’s meeting with the Wildcats.

St. John’s has not been in the Big East Tournament Semifinals since 2000.

“Tonight was a big game. We came out victorious. And tomorrow’s a big game. And we’ll see how that goes.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m (FoxSports1) at Madison Square Garden.