DePaul basketball defeated by St. John’s

Coming off its first Big East win of the season last Saturday, DePaul basketball was aiming to start its first win streak of the year. On Wednesday night facing off against the St. John’s Red Storm, DePaul struggled to contain St. John’s offense, as the Demons lost 81-68.

In their win against Marquette last week, the Demons’ defense was a critical key to that victory. Against St. John’s, DePaul couldn’t get back into that defensive rhythm, leaving the Red Storm to score 49 points in the first half, the most allowed by DePaul in a single half this season.

St. John’s and DePaul were supposed to meet on Jan. 2, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 related concerns. “From the time that our game got cancelled in New York City, they’ve improved exponentially,” said DePaul coach Dave Leitao. “We faced that improved team today.”

Early in the contest, the two teams traded leads for the first few minutes, but soon enough St. John’s fell into an offensive rhythm and the Demons’ defense couldn’t find a way to shut it down. After four minutes or so into the game, the Red Storm took the lead for the last time and didn’t look back.

The Demons’ couldn’t seem to buy a bucket in the first half. In those 20 minutes, over four Blue Demons scored: Charlie Moore, Javon Freeman-Liberty, Darious Hall and Pauly Paulicap.

Paulicap played the most complete game for the Demons. As Wednesday’s player of the game, Paulicap picked up his first double-double as a Demon in the first half, going into the break with 13 points and 13 rebounds. He finished the game with 16 points, 16 rebounds, a steal and two blocks. With those 16 rebounds, Paulicap established a new career high and passed the 500-rebound mark.

“I came into this game… wanting to win, trying to win. I put my best forward and I try to do as best I can in whatever I can do, whether it’s rebounding or scoring. The opportunity was there so I took it,” Paulicap said at his postgame press conference.

Coach Leitao praised his performance: “Pauly is one of those guys that plays with an extremely high motor every single day, so what happens is, you say ‘Jeez, why can’t other guys play that hard?’ You realize playing hard is a talent… not everybody can play as hard as Pauly plays.”

The Demons - though losing the lead early on - did have brief moments where it looked like this game could change; however, DePaul’s perennial turnover problem proved to be too big a barrier. With 18 turnovers in the game, St. John’s was able to capitalize on the Blue Demons’ errors and convert those turnovers into 30 points.

“It’s been an issue - maybe our number one issue since we got started,” Leitao said. “I think they [turnovers] all come from not being comfortable and aggressive at the same time.”

Aside from Paulicap’s effort for the Demons, Moore also contributed a game-high 21 points while Freeman-Liberty added 16 points of his own. For Freeman-Liberty and Hall, this game marked the 75th career game for both players.

The Demons are back in action against the Creighton Blue Jays on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

Photo courtesy of Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia