St. John’s made the weekend trip out to Chicago for an evening meeting with the DePaul Blue Demons to close out their regular season series Sunday evening. The Johnnies were hoping for a win, not only to complete the regular season sweep but to also try to make a late season push to close out the regular season on a high note. Neither of these were in the cards, as the DePaul Blue Demons in their quest to finish the regular season with a winning record held off the Red Storm by a score of 99 to 94.
Much like their previous affair earlier this season, this one was a high scoring affair except this time it was the Blue Demons setting the pace and tone for the game. What was truly amazing was despite St. John’s best efforts to setup their style of play early on it had no effect on DePaul and it seemed like DePaul was able to beat St. John’s at their own game
Then again, when you have Javon Freeman-Liberty and David Jones having absolute monster games, things become a bit more easier to process. Freeman-Liberty had himself a game, posting a season high 39 points on 14-21 shooting. At times, he was automatic from beyond the arc seemingly hitting every three ball to give the Blue Demons that added boost. To add to his scoring, prowess Freeman-Liberty also had seven rebounds and five steals to give him a more complete game. David Jones, on the other hand, had himself a double-double night of 24 points on 8-15 shooting and a game leading 10 rebounds. Jones also tied the assist mark on the game with St. John’s Stef Smith as both posted five assists on the night.
Rounding out the scoring for the Blue Demons was Yor Anei who posted a 10 point game on 4-5 shooting.
As a team, the Blue Demons shot the ball at a rate of 55.9% from the floor, 38.9% from beyond the arc, and 68.4% from the foul line. They out rebounded the Johnnies by 39 boards the St. John’s 35 rebounds though on the reverse end coughed up the ball 15 times on turnovers to St. John’s 13 turnovers.
Speaking of St. John’s, Sunday night felt like a night that any other game would have been a win for the Red Storm, and more or less was loss by the fact that DePaul just shot more consistently. When a team shoots 55% from the floor its going to be a bad day for any opponent. Julian Champagnie had an excellent rebound game from his midweek woes against Creighton. He posted a team leading 26 points on 10-27 shooting. He also finished third in team rebounds with six on the night. Aaron Wheeler was the best secondary option with a 20 point game on 8-13 shooting and was second in rebounds with seven on the night. Rounding out the scoring was Posh Alexander, with had an excellent game of 18 points on 8-12 shooting, a team leading eight rebounds, and four assists. Though as mentioned earlier, Stef Smith led the way in assists for the Johnnies with five on the game.
As a team, St. John’s shot the ball at a rate of 48.7% from the floor, 36.8% from beyond the arc, and a rather dismal 59.1% from the foul line.
With this game in the books, we now turn our attention to the final week of regular season basketball in the Big East. There is still a lot to play for, though in the case of St. John’s, it seems as any prospect of a late season surge is now on ice, especially with Xavier and Marquette coming up as the final two games of the regular season. It is hard to assess this season as being a success, as the Johnnies were, by and large, middling for much of their time in the Big East. It feels that this team takes one step forward and two steps back, but maybe the Big East Tournament can provide a surprise.
DePaul, on the other hand, with this win move to the .500 mark on the season. There is still a long way to go for the Blue Demons as a program, but it does feel that there are signs of life going forward as Tony Stubblefield tries to get DePaul as a program back on track. The potential is there for them to finish with a winning record this season.