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January 15, 2014

St. John's Falls to DePaul

Despite St. John's heated desire to break its conference losing streak, the Queens, N.Y. squad lost in a heartbreaker to DePaul, 77-75, on the road Tuesday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.

As a result, the Red Storm (9-7, 0-4 BIG EAST) remain winless in league play.

The Johnnies showed the necessary fight for buckets and boards in both halves, but the nagging issues of foul trouble and turnovers permeated the stanzas and prevented the Storm from surging against the Blue Demons (10-8, 2-3).

A pull-up jumper by Harrison gave St. John's a four-point lead, 74-70, as late as the 4:35 mark of the second half. However, with both teams in the double bonus, free throws by senior forward Cleveland Melvin and a fastbreak lay-in by freshman guard Billy Garrett Jr., pulled the Blue Demons within one point, 75-74, at the 3:02 mark of the stanza.

With 2:19 remaining in the contest, DePaul's Melvin netted a determining hook-shot to give the Blue Demons a one-point advantage, 76-75.

Garrett Jr. finished the game with a team-high 21 points and five assists, while Melvin added 16 points, seven rebounds and six blocks.

Neither Harrison nor teammate senior forward Orlando Sanchez, who had been instrumental in the Johnnies' second half grind, could get off 3-point attempts in the Johnnies' next possessions.

So, DePaul, who had the possession with about 47 seconds remaining, ate up time with some ball movement. A play to the basket by senior guard Brandon Young late in the shot clock was rejected by St. John's big man God'sgift Achiuwa (four blocks). The Blue Demons recovered the ball, but Melvin attempted a fruitless jumper.

As a result, St. John's had another possession with 11 seconds left.

Red Storm freshman guard Rysheed Jordan, who had his statistically strongest game thus far, gunned the ball up the court, hitting sophomore swingman Max Hooper for a 3-pointer. However, Hooper, who had already drained 1-of-3 of his shots from behind the arc, missed.

DePaul's Young sank 1-of-2 from the line with only 1.9 seconds remaining, and Jordan missed a half-court, desperation shot on the last possession of the game that sealed the victory for the Blue Demons.

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

The Johnnies went scoreless in the final 3:48 of the matchup.

Harrison, who was a game-time decision after suffering a minor concussion in the matchup with Villanova, but cleared all of his post-concussive tests, scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-6 from downtown. He also grabbed five rebounds.

Teammate Jordan finished with 16 points on 6-of-10 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range. He tacked on six rebounds and four assists. Sanchez, who posted 11 points and five boards in the game, stepped up in the absence of sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson (eight points), who was weighed down by foul trouble.

DePaul sparked a 7-0 run just as St. John's junior swingman Sir'Dominic Pointer picked up a technical foul for some rough contact with freshman guard Garrett Jr. at the 13:57 mark of the second half.

Before the run, the contest was tied at 55 on a basket by Pointer.

The surge gave way to the Blue Demons holding their largest lead of the matchup when a 3-pointer by 6-foot-10, 284-pound freshman center Tommy Hamilton IV (13 points, six boards) capped the run and gave the squad a 62-55 lead.

St. John's and DePaul were knotted at 38 by halftime.

The Red Storm had their largest lead of the matchup at the 7:16 mark of the first half when the score was 29-24 after a 3-pointer by the rookie Jordan.

St. John's shot a strong 47.5 percent (28-of-59) overall, including an impressive 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range. Meanwhile, DePaul recorded 40.3 percent (25-of-62) from the field, including 33.3 percent (6-of-18) from 3-point range.

The Blue Demons posted their first back-to-back BIG EAST win since January 2008.

St. John's returns home to Carnesecca Arena (Queens, N.Y.) for a 7 p.m. tip with Providence on Thursday, Jan. 16.

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