DePaul Drops BIG EAST Contest to St. John's 71-62
Jan. 19, 2013
ROSEMONT, Ill. - A furious finish for DePaul on Saturday couldn't quite overcome two critical lapses in the second half.
That resulted in a 71-62 BIG EAST Conference loss to St. John's at Allstate Arena.
Trailing by 17 points with 6 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game, DePaul (10-8, 1-4 in the BIG EAST) went on a 16-2 run highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from Jamee Crockett and one from Moses Morgan.
Suddenly, it was a three-point game with 2:24 left.
But D'Angelo Harrison made five free throws in crunch time to put the game away.
"We kept fighting pretty hard," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "But you still have to play smarter and better during the bulk of the game in order for that fight to pay off.
"There was a stretch in the second half where we didn't rebound, turned the ball over and didn't shoot the ball well. That spelled our undoing."
The Blue Demons opened the second half with a 6-2 burst to go ahead 39-37 on a Charles McKinney score. St. John's (11-7, 3-3) scored the next 10 points in reclaiming a 47-39 advantage. Morgan buried a three-pointer, but Harrison countered with a three-point play. A Cleveland Melvin put-back cut the deficit to 50-44.
The Red Storm went up by 17 with 7:34 left in the second half after a string of 11 unanswered points. Melvin's foul shot ended the scoring drought and started the late Blue Demon surge.
"We were careless with the ball, not executing our offense and not hitting shots," said Jamee Crockett, who led all scorers with a season-high 19 points. "We have to stick to what we do---play tough defense to get our offense going."
Melvin contributed 16 points and eight rebounds and Morgan had nine points. Brandon Young, the team's second-leading scorer, finished with just six points although he had a team-high 10 rebounds.
"Everybody is going to have an off game," Crockett said. "We were picking up the slack for him.
Purnell was glad to see the emergence of Crockett.
"It was good to see Jamee break out of a little bit of a funk," Purnell said. "He gave us a good live-body effort and attacked the rim. You want to see Jamee slash against a zone defense, attack the basket, get to the glass and then take a few jump shots."
Early on, it seemed like DePaul had found its third scorer to complement Melvin and Young. Crockett scored three consecutive baskets, the third one drawing the Blue Demons even with St. John's at 29-29.
Crockett had missed several three-point shots and began driving to the basket. That led to a pair of spectacular dunks.
The first one came after Donnavan Kirk missed on a three-point attempt. Crockett rose up, caught the ball with one hand and flushed it with a tomahawk jam.
On the next Blue Demon possession, Crockett caught an alley-oop pass from Durrell McDonald and used every bit of his near-40-inch vertical leap to slam it home for a 33-31 DePaul lead.
The Red Storm scored the final two baskets of the first half to go into intermission with a 35-33 lead. For the game, Jamal Branch led St. John's with 18 points while Sir'Dominic Pointer added 14 points and 11 boards.
Even when his team went ahead by 17, St. John's coach Steve Lavin knew it wasn't time to coast.
"DePaul is a scrappy, feisty team that has a style they believe in," Lavin said. "They want to fight and scratch and claw, and I knew they'd make a run at us.
"They were opportunistic, got some steals and turnovers and made some big shots. Next thing you knew, it was a one-possession game."
DePaul gets a week off before returning to action Saturday, Jan. 26 at Pittsburgh.