NEW YORK -- DePaul coach Oliver Purnell can be thankful January is in the rear-view mirror for his Blue Demons.
Purnell's team finished the month 1-6 after dropping a spirited 79-74 overtime decision to St. John's on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena. The loss moved DePaul to 10-10, 1-6 in the Big East Conference.
The Blue Demons gave their best effort during the losing streak, but it wasn't enough to overcome their second loss to St. John's in 11 days. The Red Storm knocked off the Blue Demons 71-62 on Jan. 19 at Allstate Arena.
St. John's (14-7, 6-3), the hottest team in the Big East with five straight wins, was paced by D'Angelo Harrison
's 17 points. Brandon Young
led DePaul with 21 points, Jamee Crockett
scored 14 and Moses Morgan
added 13 off the bench.
Sir'Dominic Pointer dominated the overtime for St. John's. His follow-up dunk tied the game at 73-73 with 2:15 to play, and his two free throws after an intentional foul by Young gave the Red Storm a 77-74 cushion with 1:04 to go.
Young's potential tying 3-pointer from the left corner fell short for DePaul with 15.8 seconds left.
It looked like the Blue Demons were in good shape to finish the month on a positive note when Young buried a 3-pointer to tie it at 65-65 with 4:15 left in regulation. Then, 30 seconds later, they caught a break when Harrison fouled out.
But DePaul couldn't capitalize.
Cleveland Melvin's basket provided DePaul with a 67-65 lead with 3:45 to play, but a dunk by Pointer drew St. John's even at 67-67 at the 1:59 mark.
Crockett's follow allowed DePaul to regain the lead at 69-67 with 1:25 to go, but the pesky Red Storm tied it again at 69-69 on two free throws from Jamal Branch with 1:18 remaining.
DePaul had a chance to retake the lead, but Young's long 3-pointer fell off the back iron with 12 seconds left.
Despite suffering through another poor shooting half, DePaul trailed by just seven (38-31) at halftime, thanks largely to some aggressive play on the offensive boards.
The Blue Demons enjoyed a 12-4 advantage on the offensive glass, scoring eight points off of those chances. They held a 28-15 overall cushion on the boards, but made just 12 of 35 shots from the field (34.3 percent).
Melvin, DePaul's leading scorer, struggled in the half-court, but Moses Morgan provided a spark off the bench.
Morgan contributed 11 points in 13 minutes. Brandon Young chipped in with eight and Jamee Crockett added seven for DePaul.
NOTES: Melvin is the Big East Conference's only player ranked among the Top 10 in scoring and rebounding. He's fifth in both categories in the league. ... The Blue Demons are last in the conference in scoring defense (80.7), scoring margin (minus 10.7), field-goal percentage (.481) and 3-point field goal percentage (.253). ... Worrel Clahar's first-half 3-pointer represented the 599th straight game the Blue Demons have knocked down at least one 3-point shot. Their last game without one came against UAB on Feb. 16, 1993. ... Although he's a spot starter, St. John's Chris Obekpa leads the nation with 91 blocked shots.
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