Red Storm men’s basketball team will meet Villanova on Thursday in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. inside Madison Square Garden
Produced by: redstormsports.com
The St. John's men's basketball team erased an early 10-point deficit and never looked back against DePaul in the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament, defeating the Blue Demons, 92-73, on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
The Red Storm, which has advanced to the tournament's quarterfinal round for the sixth consecutive season, will face second-seeded Villanova on Thursday at 7 p.m. on FS1.
Julian Champagnie scored 22 of his game-high 26 points in the opening half. The two-time First Team All-BIG EAST selection also grabbed seven boards and came away with two steals.
Two other Johnnies finished in double figures, as Stef Smith tallied 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Esahia Nyiwe finished one board shy of a double-double, scoring 10 points and setting a new career-high with nine rebounds.
Posh Alexander, Aaron Wheeler, Joel Soriano and Dylan Addae-Wusu scored eight points apiece for the Johnnies (17-14). Alexander and Addae-Wusu dished out seven and five assists, respectively. Montez Mathis added seven points for the Red Storm.
As a team, St. John's assisted on 22 of its 37 made baskets and set a BIG EAST Tournament record by committing only two turnovers. The old record of three was set by Georgetown against Boston College on March 6, 1987.
The Red Storm's 92 points marked the program's second-highest total in 39 years of BIG EAST Tournament appearances.
The first four minutes of the contest were all DePaul, as the Blue Demons made five of their first seven from the field to grab a 12-2 lead. The Red Storm responded with a 12-2 run of its own, tying the game at 14 on a Mathis 3-pointer with seven and a half gone in the game.
That 12-2 spurt kick-started a larger 24-5 run for the Red Storm, as 10 straight points from the Red Storm made it 26-17 and forced a DePaul timeout with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.
The Blue Demons answered with a 7-0 spurt to make it a two-point game, but Champagnie promptly rattled off a personal 9-0 run to restore the Red Storm lead.
St. John's held DePaul scoreless for the final 3:21 of the half and scored the period's last 11 points, taking a 49-29 lead into the locker room.
DePaul trimmed the St. John's lead to 17 in the opening minutes of the second half, but that was as close as the Blue Demons would get the rest of the way. The Red Storm led by as many as 27 with seven minutes to go in the contest.