WBB: St. John’s loses second straight to No. 23/21 DePaul

Katherine Acquavella, Staff Writer

In a battle between two Big East title contenders, St. John’s fell to No. 23/21 DePaul, 77-71.

Both teams were hoping for a bounce-back win as DePaul (17-7, 9-2) was coming off an 83-74 home loss to Seton Hall while St. John’s (16-6, 7-4) was coming off a 67-64 road loss to Marquette.

Junior Jessica January flirted with a triple-double to lead the Blue Demons to the bounce-back home win over the Johnnies. January scored nine of DePaul’s first 11 points and finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, coming up just short of her second triple-double of the season.

Two other Blue Demons recorded double-doubles as Megan Podkowa notched 11 points and 13 boards and Chanise Jenkins tallied 10 points and 10 dishes.

Danaejah Grant led the Red Storm with 24 points. Grant was three-for-five from beyond the arc and pulled down seven boards. The Johnnies battled back from down over 10 points multiple times, but could not get within five in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

“I thought we gave a great effort in the second half to make it a close game,” said Head Coach Joe Tartamella. “We need to focus on the positive aspects and carry them over to next weekend.”

Junior guard Aaliyah Lewis tallied 13 points for the Red Storm, while backcourt mate Aliyyah Handford registered 12 points and six boards. The senior guard also matched a career-high with seven assists.

Junior forward Jade Walker recorded eight points and set a new career-high with 14 rebounds against the Blue Demons. Freshman Akina Wellere chipped in six points and three rebounds.

DePaul, one of the nation’s top three-point shooting teams, connected on eight tries from beyond the arc. The Blue Demons also assisted on 24 of their 30 made field goals.

DePaul found its offensive rhythm early, jumping ahead 15-8 at the five-minute mark of the opening period. The Blue Demons maintained a lead in that vicinity for the remainder of the period, as sophomore Ashton Millender beat the buzzer with a three to put DePaul up nine, 25-16, after 10 minutes of action.

St. John’s registered the second quarter’s first four points to pull within five, 25-20, but DePaul responded with a 9-0 run to move ahead by 14, 34-20, with just over six minutes to go in the half.

The Red Storm narrowed the gap by the intermission, as Grant connected on a three-ball to trim the deficit to 12, 42-30, in the closing seconds of the first half.

After three quarters, DePaul had extended the lead to 61-47. After a pair of DePaul free throws provided a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, St. John’s went on a 6-0 run to come within 66-59 with 5:17 left in the game. The Blue Demons put up two baskets to gain the 70-60 advantage with 2:35 left. St. John’s closed to 74-69 before DePaul finished it off.

With the loss, DePaul improves to 12-4 all-time against St. John’s and has won six straight in the series.

St. John’s will complete its last away game of the three game road trip against Seton Hall (17-5, 7-4) in South Orange, N.J. Tip off is at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.