NEW YORK — Guard Brandon Young and DePaul came alive in the second half, but it was not enough to knock off St. John’s as the Red Storm held on for a 72-64 win Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
DePaul trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half, but battled back to get to within three points, 57-54, with 3:19 left in the game. St. John’s outscored DePaul 15-10 to seal the win.
Red Storm center Chris Obekpa blocked two of his six shots 20 seconds apart with St. John’s ahead 59-54 at the 2:38 mark. St. John’s recorded 14 blocks in the contest.
The Blue Demons reduced the deficit by going on an 18-4 run to get to within six points at 52-46 with 7:51 to play. Forward James Crockett scored six points in the burst.
With only one game left in Big East play, the Blue Demons (11-19, 3-14 Big East) are in danger of finishing in last place in the conference for the sixth straight season. Coach Oliver Purnell’s team is home to Butler on Thursday, a team it defeated in double-overtime on Jan. 9. Butler is 2-14 in the conference.
The highest DePaul has finished in the conference standings is seventh in 2006-07, its second in the Big East.
Young, who has assumed the scoring duties for DePaul since Cleveland Melvin left the school Feb. 10, led the Blue Demons with 23 points. He tossed in 12 points in the second half after a sluggish first half by the Blue Demons.
DePaul is 1-5 since Melvin’s departure. The Big East’s Rookie of the Year in 2011, Melvin ranked among DePaul’s all-time leaders in several offensive categories and averaged a team-high 16.7 points this season.
Guard D’Angelo Harrison paced St. John’s (19-11, 9-8) with 25 points. The Red Storm ended a brief two-game losing streak after reeling off six straight wins.
The Blue Demons recorded their fewest points in the first half this season, trailing 33-21. Harrison led the Red Storm with 13 points. St. John’s produced six blocked shots and dominated the paint, outscoring DePaul 16-6 in the low post.
Young tossed in nine points as DePaul shot 30 percent from the floor. It was just three of 12 from 3-point range.
The Blue Demons started the game by converting only two of their first 13 shots and trailed 16-4 with 11:13 left in the half. They cut the lead to eight points, 29-21, but St. John’s closed the half with two straight baskets.
NOTES: St. John’s was without freshman G Rysheed Jordan who was mourning the death of his aunt, Niaja Kane. … DePaul leads the Big East Conference in offensive rebounds (12.7 per game) and is third in blocked shots (4.4), steals (6.6), and offensive rebound percentage (34.9). … Four different DePaul players have recorded seven double-doubles this season. … The Blue Demons have used 14 various starting lineups this season. … DePaul G Billy Garrett Jr. has been named the Big East Rookie of the Week five times this season.
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