Duke, Villanova and Marquette couldn’t handle Shamorie Ponds in the previous 10 days, so DePaul shouldn’t feel too badly that it couldn’t stop the St. John’s sophomore guard either.
Ponds piled up 26 points and a career-high 10 assists — capped by two big baskets and one flashy assist in the final three minutes — to rally St. John’s for a 77-76 Big East victory over DePaul on Wednesday night in Chicago.
Junior forward Marvin Clark II added a career-high 24 points as the Red Storm (14-13, 3-11 Big East) won their fourth game in a row. St. John’s trailed by four points with three minutes to play before Ponds and Clark orchestrated a 12-7 run to close out the game.
DePaul had a chance to tie the game on the final possession, but junior forward Max Strus’ 3-pointer rattled out with six seconds left.
St. John’s junior center Tariq Owens added an insurance free throw with 2.8 seconds to play. Strus hit a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer to give DePaul its second consecutive one-point home loss.
Junior point guard Eli Cain paced DePaul (10-15, 3-10) with 19 points and a career-high 11 assists. All five Blue Demons starters delivered double figures. Senior center Marin Maric posted 15 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out, while Strus added 14 points.
DePaul raced out to a 12-3 lead in the opening four minutes as Cain accounted for all 12 points by drilling two 3-pointers, sinking a jumper and handing out assists to sophomore guard Brandon Cyrus and freshman forward Jaylen Butz.
The Blue Demons still led by eight points with eight minutes left in the first half before Ponds heated up. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Red Storm their first lead, 37-35, with 37 seconds left in the half.
Strus responded with a 3-pointer that pushed DePaul to a 38-37 edge at the half, setting the tone for a riveting second half laden with lead changes.
The teams swapped the lead eight times in the opening 14 minutes after the break. Maric’s dunk with 6:35 left gave DePaul a 63-62 lead that lasted until Ponds threw in a 25-footer with 2:35 to go for a 70-69 St. John’s edge.
Ponds added a three-point play on the next St. John’s possession, then drove the lane and whipped a pass to Clark for a two-handed dunk as the Red Storm stayed one possession ahead of the Blue Demons down the stretch.
—Field Level Media