Jan. 17, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. - The hard-nosed defense that has been a hallmark of the Norm Roberts Era at St. John's was back on full display on Sunday, and helped the Red Storm capture its second BIG EAST victory. St. John's took a big bounce to get back into the mix in the conference standings by posting a 67-47 victory over DePaul before 4,317 at Carnesecca Arena.
St. John's defensive effort limited the Blue Demons to a 32.0 percent shooting day from the field (16-for-50) and helped the Red Storm to a 46-26 advantage on the glass. In the first half alone, DePaul made only seven field goals (7-of-24, 29.2 percent) and managed only 20 points, matching STJ's game against Stony Brook (Dec. 2) as the Red Storm's stingiest defensive half of the season.
"Our guys played hard defensively. We played with good energy, moved our feet well and played good ball screen defense," said Roberts. "We have persevered and stayed tough after a few losses. These guys are juniors now and they understand that we have to try to keep good weeks going. They understand that they have to have a hunger to keep winning."
Up 17-15 at the 7:23 mark in the first half, St. John's began to pull away with a 10-0 run over the next four minutes. The Red Storm was off and running during that stretch, and Justin Brownlee and D.J. Kennedy each had four points to help St. John's extend its lead to 27-15. The Blue Demons rattled off the next five points to close within seven, but the Red Storm responded with clutch free throws from Malik Boothe and Anthony Mason Jr. to retain command at the intermission, 31-20.
The second half featured more of the same defensive intensity that led to offensive opportunities, as the Red Storm opened the second half on a 22-4 run by the 10:20 mark, with DePaul connecting on only one of 11 attempts in the first 8:40 of the second half. A pair of Mike Stovall free throws with 10:06 to play marked the Blue Demons' first points over a near seven-minute stretch.
The Red Storm finished the game shooting 46.3 percent from the field (25-for-54), led by Justin Burrell's 3-for-4 effort that resulted in 11 points, marking his second-best offensive output of the year. Brownlee scored 10 to record his third double-digit effort in the last five games, while Mason Jr. scored eight with a game-high 10 boards - marking his first double-figure rebounding performance since grabbing 10 vs. Syracuse on Jan. 21, 2007, during his sophomore season - in only his third game back from a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Kennedy scored eight points with six rebounds and five assists, and Sean Evans notched six points with eight caroms.
St. John's next heads to Hartford, Conn., to meet No. 15/15 UConn on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in the XL Center. The game will be televised in the New York area on SNY.