EditorsNote: Update 2: Fixes in 2nd graf
Long Island product Femi Olujobi scored a season-high 27 points to lead visiting DePaul to a 79-71 victory over No. 24 St. John’s, which was minus star guard Shamorie Ponds on Saturday night in Queens, N.Y.
Prior to the tip, St. John’s (14-3, 2-3 Big East) announced Ponds, the preseason player of the year in the league, would sit out due to a lower-back strain. The junior entered play Saturday third in the Big East in scoring, averaging 20.6 points, and first in assists (6.0) and steals (2.7) while starting each of the Red Storm’s previous 16 games.
Ponds’ absence led to a major advantage for the Blue Demons (10-5, 2-2), who got a huge effort from Olujobi, as the 6-foot-9 big man had plenty of local support in the crowd. Fellow 6-9 teammate Paul Reed added a career-high 18 points with 10 rebounds, and Max Strus had 14 points and 12 rebounds as DePaul held a 43-34 edge on the boards.
The Blue Demons also held St. John’s to 5-of-19 shooting from 3-point range as the hosts matched their lowest point total of the season. In addition, DePaul made 28 trips to the free throw line, making 17, while the Red Storm attempted just six from the stripe.
The victory was DePaul’s first in four road contests this season and it snapped a 15-game losing streak against Top 25 opponents. The Red Storm, meanwhile, dropped to 9-1 at home and were unable to bounce back from blowing a late lead in Tuesday’s 76-71 loss at Villanova.
It’s uncertain how much more time Ponds could miss. St. John’s, which almost certainly will drop out of the Top 25, does not play again until Wednesday against Creighton.
LJ Figueroa led the Red Storm with 23 points while Justin Simon added 20. Marvin Clark II shook off a rough first half to finish with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Trying to match a season high with its third straight victory, DePaul hosts Butler on Wednesday before hitting the road for three consecutive contests.
—Field Level Media