Junior guard Shamorie Ponds recorded 18 points and seven assists to help St. John’s post an 82-74 victory over DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday night in New York.
Junior guard Mustapha Heron added 18 points and seven rebounds and junior guard Justin Simon had 18 points and six rebounds as the seventh-seeded Red Storm (21-11) advance to face second-seeded Marquette in Thursday’s quarterfinals. St. John’s won both regular-season meetings.
Sophomore forward LJ Figueroa scored 14 points and senior forward Marvin Clark II added 10 as St. John’s ended a three-game slide.
Senior guard Eli Cain scored 23 points for the 10th-seeded Blue Demons (15-15). Sophomore guard Devin Gage tallied 19 points and senior Max Strus added 14.
Sophomore forward Jaylen Butz collected 14 rebounds for DePaul, which owned a 40-30 edge on the boards.
The Red Storm shot 46.3 percent from the field, including 7 of 22 from 3-point range.
The Blue Demons shot 43.1 percent and were just 4 of 20 from behind the arc.
DePaul crept within 65-57 on a layup by sophomore forward Paul Reed with 8:43 remaining before the Red Storm halted that charge with nine straight points.
Ponds drained a 3-pointer, Simon and Figueroa delivered dunks and sophomore forward Sedee Keita scored on a layup to give St. John’s a 74-57 edge with 5:51 remaining en route to closing out the win.
The Red Storm opened up a 58-46 lead earlier in the half on Ponds’ three-point play with 12:31 left.
Simon scored 12 first-half points as St. John’s held a 39-35 lead at the break.
Cain scored 16 points to keep the Blue Demons close.
Clark made a 3-pointer to give the Red Storm a 16-6 lead with 13:37 left before DePaul erupted on a 12-2 run. Strus converted a four-point play to cap it and knot the score at 18 with 10:33 remaining.
St. John’s led by six later in the half before Cain culminated an 8-2 burst with two free throws to tie it at 27 with 4:18 remaining.
—Field Level Media