DePaul basketball snaps 5-game losing streak, beats St. John’s

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DePaul basketball snapped its five-game losing streak on Saturday, picking up its second Big East Conference win with a victory over St. John’s 88-83. Saturday’s victory saw the return of senior guard Charlie Moore, who had missed the last two games with a left knee injury. Sophomore guard Oscar Lopez Jr., who had been out since Dec. 27 with a knee injury, also returned for the Blue Demons.

DePaul started the game in typical fashion, taking an early lead of 9-3, with a 7-0 run in the beginning of the first half. The Red Storm fought back though, going on an 8-0 run of their own, taking the lead 11-9. When Moore and Lopez came off the bench, the tides turned for the Blue Demons, and DePaul began to build upon its most complete offensive game of the season.

St. John’s stuck around, knotting the game at 37 after scoring five straight buckets. At the half, the Demons held a slim advantage, leading the Red Storm 41-40.

After the break, the Blue Demons came out hot, scoring 13 of the game’s 15 points, including 11 points straight. Roughly midway through the second half, Lopez Jr. gave DePaul its largest lead of the game at 66-51. As the clock ticked down, St. John’s closed the lead to four points with under a minute left to play.

Traditionally, this is when the Demons tend to fall apart. In too many games this season, DePaul has held a lead for most of the game, outplayed its opponents for a considerable time, but then failed to put up the necessary offense to clinch a win.

Saturday was finally different. In the last minute, the Demons knocked down 10 free throws from senior guard Ray Salnave, sophomore center Nick Ongenda and Moore to seal their second conference win. As Saturday’s player of the game, Moore led the Blue Demons to victory. He put up a team-high 24 points, adding six rebounds and eight assists, while shooting 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Along with Moore, junior forward Darious Hall, Salnave and Lopez Jr. all finished the night in double digits.

“Charlie after not playing for a couple of weeks, [scoring] 24 [points], eight assists and six rebounds was huge, particularly [in] controlling our offense, making plays, getting into the paint, taking shots,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.

In DePaul’s best shooting game of the season, eight of nine players contributed to the scoresheet, lending to a season-best 63% from the field on 34-for-54 shooting.

“The group… and the spirit that they had and the adversity that they’ve been through - really got to give them credit… not only for their performance, but their resiliency,” Leitao said.

This win brings DePaul to 4-10 overall and 2-10 in the Big East. The Blue Demons will finish up their three-game road trip on Wednesday night when they face the No. 14 Creighton Bluejays. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

DePaul will close out the regular season with two home games against the Georgetown Hoyas on Feb. 27 and against the Marquette Golden Eagles on March 2. The Big East Conference Tournament is set to kick off the following Wednesday March 10 with all games televised on FS1 or FOX.

Photo by Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia