DePaul is not proud to be named the Big East’s worst team, but a weak 22 point first half didn’t prove that. St. John’s stormed past the Blue Demons to add yet another loss to their suffering record.
Dwight Hardy continued his scoring streak with 21 points and No. 23 St. John’s, playing as a ranked team for the first time in more than 10 years, dominated DePaul throughout in a 76-51 victory Wednesday night.
Hardy, who came in averaging 26.0 points on 50 percent shooting, including 53.3 from 3-point range, didn’t have to come up with any late-game heroics like he did Saturday in a 60-59 win over No. 4 Pittsburgh.
The Red Storm (18-9, 10-5 Big East) controlled the game inside, in transition and on the backboards to win for the eighth time in nine games, a streak that got them in The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since November 2000.
Freshman Cleveland Melvin had 16 points for the Blue Demons (7-20, 1-14), who have lost 14 of 15. This was DePaul’s 29th consecutive loss to a ranked team and eighth this season.
St. John’s used a 12-0 run – with Hardy and D.J. Kennedy each getting five points – to take a 33-14 lead with 3:08 left in the half.
Brandon Young hit a 30-footer at the buzzer to pull the Blue Demons to 37-22.
St. John’s started the second half on a 9-2 run for a 46-24 lead with 16:59 to play and it only got worse from there for DePaul, which trailed by as many as 30 points – 61-31 on a jumper by Hardy with 10:39 to play.
Paris Horne added 12 points and Kennedy had 11 points and 10 rebounds for St. John’s, which has won four straight over the Blue Demons, including a 90-82 triple-overtime game last season when Kennedy had 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Hardy’s tightrope walk along the baseline and his underhanded scoop with 1.2 seconds to play gave the Red Storm the win over Pittsburgh, their fifth over a ranked team this season. All five of the teams – Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke, Connecticut and Pitt – were ranked 13th or higher in the Top 25 when St. John’s faced them.
The Red Storm’s 2-3 zone had DePaul frustrated about getting the ball inside and forced them to take long perimeter shots. The Blue Demons finished 17 of 55 from the field (30.9 percent).
St. John’s, meanwhile, got the ball inside often and effectively, outscoring DePaul 42-18 in the paint. That also helped the Red Storm to 54.4 percent shooting (31 of 57) and they finished with a 43-29 rebound advantage.
It was the 500th game played at Carnesecca Arena, the 50-year-old on-campus gym. St. John’s record is now 420-80 in the building named for its Hall of Fame coach, who retired in 1992 and was in the sellout crowd of 5,602.
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