Jan. 1, 2017
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ROSEMONT, Ill. - After recording its first win against a ranked opponent in three years on Thursday night, the Johnnies made it three wins in a row on Sunday afternoon in The Windy City, as four players scored in double figures to push the Red Storm past DePaul, 79-73.
Marcus LoVett tallied his fourth 20-plus point game of the season and his first since Nov. 23, netting 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting and dishing out six assists to lead the Red Storm (8-7, 2-0 BIG EAST). The redshirt freshman also made six of his seven free throw attempts.
Backcourt mate Shamorie Ponds added 15 points and recorded four steals in a game for the fifth time this season, while Bronx native Bashir Ahmed chipped in 14 points on a 4-of-6 shooting effort from beyond the arc.
The frontcourt tandem of Darien Williams and Tariq Owens played a crucial role in helping the Red Storm pull away down the stretch, as the pair combined for 13 points on a 14-9 run that began with the contest tied at 59 and just under seven minutes to play. For the game, Williams scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and made all four of his free throw attempts while also pulling down a career-high nine boards. Four of those rebounds came on the offensive glass. Owens, the leading shot blocker in the BIG EAST, recorded four or more swats for the sixth time in his last eight outings, rejecting four Blue Demon shot attempts in addition to scoring nine points and corralling five rebounds.
Malik Ellison filled up the stat sheet in the most meaningful of ways on Sunday afternoon, scoring seven points while dishing out a career-high eight assists and tying a career-high with six rebounds. The sophomore from Voorhees, N.J., also surrendered no turnovers in a career-high 37 minutes of action.
The Johnnies got off to a slow start from the field on Sunday afternoon, converting on just one of their first nine shot attempts while DePaul (7-8, 0-2 BIG EAST) found it hard to miss, making four its first seven including a pair of 3-pointers.
Down by 12, 17-5, seven minutes into the contest, the Red Storm rattled off nine unanswered, cutting the deficit to just three, 17-14, on a Williams jumper with 10:29 to play in the half.
The Blue Demons built their lead back to eight, 24-16, a minute and a half later, but the Johnnies responded with an 11-0 run to capture their first lead of the game, 27-24, with 7:41 remaining in the stanza. LoVett scored five points on the run, while Ellison and Ahmed each chipped in a triple. St. John's sank eight of its 11 attempts from the field after starting 1-for-9.
With the Johnnies on top, DePaul closed the half on a 16-6 run, as Chris Harrison-Docks came off the bench to score nine points and help the Blue Demons take a seven-point lead, 40-33, into the locker room.
The Red Storm came out firing in the second half, scoring the stanza's first five points and pulling with one, 42-41, on Ahmed's fourth three-ball of the contest with 16:46 to go.
DePaul built its lead back up to as many as five, 51-46, but the Red Storm's backcourt responded to give St. John's its first lead of the half, as LoVett and Ponds combined for a 7-0 run to put the Johnnies on top, 53-51, with 11:32 to play. Ponds scored five points in that stretch, converting on an old-fashioned three-point play before stealing the ball in the defensive zone and driving for the bucket to put the Red Storm up by a pair.
The Blue Demons answered back with five in a row to move ahead by three, 56-53, just over a minute later, but the Red Storm retaliated with a 6-0 run, capped by a masterful coast-to-coast effort by LoVett that culminated in a three-point play.
DePaul's Billy Garret responded with a three-point play of his own to tie the game at 59 with just under seven minutes to play, but it marked the last time in the contest that DePaul would pull even with the Red Storm. Owens kicked off a run with a three-point play to put the Red Storm back ahead by three before Williams made four-straight free throws to bump the lead to seven, 66-59. Williams and Owens continued to shine down the stretch, combining for 13 points in a period that saw the Red Storm outscore DePaul 14-9 and take a five-point lead, 73-68, with 80 seconds to play.
The victory marked the first time this season that St. John's had erased a halftime deficit to come back and win. Prior to Sunday, the Red Storm had been 0-5 when trailing at the intermission.
St. John's returns to action on Wednesday, looking for its third-consecutive win to start league play against No. 10/9 Creighton inside Carnesecca Arena at 8:30 p.m. The contest will be broadcast nationally on FS1 and can be heard on 570 AM WMCA.