NEW YORK (AP) — Federico Mussini scored all of his 17 points in the second half and St. John’s ended its 16-game losing streak with an 80-65 victory over DePaul on Wednesday night.
The Red Storm (8-19, 1-13) won for the first time since a victory over Syracuse on Dec. 13. They won their first Big East conference game under first-year coach Chris Mullin and it came rather easily at Carnesecca Arena.
St. John’s had a 31-24 halftime lead but things didn’t look good at the start of the second half as the Blue Demons (8-17, 2-11) scored the first eight points of the half to take a 32-31 lead.
But the Red Storm got the lead right back on a rebound basket by Felix Balamou and they never gave it back. Mussini had half the points in a 14-2 run that gave St. John’s a 54-37 lead with 9:12 to play. The Red Storm went on to lead by 20 with 6 minutes to play. DePaul got as close as 74-65 in the frenetic final few minutes.
Durand Johnson had 18 points and Kassoum Yakwe and Malik Ellison had 11 each for St. John’s, which has won 11 of the last 13 meetings with DePaul and seven straight at home.
Eli Cain had a career-high 25 points for DePaul, which has lost three straight and five of six.
The Blue Demons missed their first nine 3-point attempts and finished 4 for 19 from beyond the arc.
St. John’s came into the game last in 10-team Big East in almost every statistical category but it didn’t look that way against DePaul. The Red Storm came in averaging 66.5 points on 39.6 percent shooting. They finished shooting 44.1 percent (26 of 59)
BILL’S BOBBLEHEAD: Fans at Carnesecca Arena were given a bobblehead of former St. John’s center Bill Wennington. The three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls played with Mullin on St. John’s Final Four team in 1985. The 7-foot Wennington is one of nine players in St. John’s history to have 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks.
SEE YOU SOON: St. John’s and DePaul meet again in eight days at Allstate Arena.
TOUGH GAMES: The last game for each team was against No. 1 Villanova. The Red Storm lost at Villanova 73-63 last weekend, and the Blue Demons lost 85-59 to the Wildcats at home on Feb. 9.
DePaul: The Blue Demons’ Big East wins were over Providence and Marquette. … Billy Garrett Jr. is one of the leading free throw shooters in the conference at 83.8 percent. Twelve times in DePaul history has a player gone 11-for-11 from the free throw in a game and Garrett has done it four times. He was 5 for 8 from the line Wednesday.
St. John’s: This was the Red Storm’s last game of the season at on-campus Carnesecca Arena. Their final two home games will be at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s was 5-6 at Carnesecca this season. … St. John’s entered the game first in the Big East and sixth in Division I in blocked shots at 5.9 per game. The Red Storm had seven blocks Wednesday.
DePaul hosts Marquette on Saturday.
St. John’s hosts Seton Hall on Sunday.
(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)