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January 17, 2010

STJ Notches 2nd Consecutive BIG EAST Win

St. John's is on an upswing, notching its second consecutive BIG EAST victory against DePaul at Carnesecca Arena on Sunday.

The 67-47 trouncing gave way to a "This is practice" chant emanating from the Johnnies' (12-5, 2-3) student section. And, it might as well have been practice as all but one player in the regular rotation recorded offensive stats in the points' column.

"I thought overall, as a team, we played with good energy, we attacked balls," said St. John's head coach Norm Roberts. "And, I thought we had some guys that had not made some plays for us, make plays for us today. So, it was a good day for us."

Justin Burrell led all Johnnies with 11 points, making the most of his 10 minutes of floor time against the Blue Demons (7-10, 0-5). Teammate junior forward Justin Brownlee added 10 points to the mix.

The Johnnies led by as much as 31 points three times in the second half, capitalizing on DePaul turnovers and empty possessions. The first time, at the 8:45 mark, the substantial 31-point advantage capped a 26-6 run that put St. John's up 57-26 on a dunk by Brownlee.

Following the third time St. John's led by 31 down the stretch, the Johnnies went on to spread more playing time around to its less seasoned players. DePaul, who lost all five of its conference games thus far this season, took advantage and went on a small 7-0 run.

A late-game effort by the Blue Demons, including a pair of 3-pointers by senior guard Will Walker, brought the team within 20 points before the final buzzer.

Walker finished with a game-high 14 points.

Of recent, DePaul has been plagued with issues at all levels. Last Monday, head coach Jerry Wainwright was fired and replaced by assistant coach Tracy Webster as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. Compiled onto that, the Blue Demons lost its leading scorer, junior big man Mac Koshwal, to a right foot injury after he was missing from the lineup between Nov. 23 and Dec. 19 with an injury to his left foot.

The St. John's program knows all too well what it means to have injuries take out top offensive contributors.

Anthony Mason Jr., who recently returned to the hardwood (Jan. 9, at Louisville) after missing much of the season caused by a re-aggravated hamstring injury, showed much improvement against DePaul in Sunday's matinee match-up. Mason, Jr. had a solid game with eight points and 10 rebounds.

"It feels good being back out there with the team, all the excitement," said Mason, Jr.

The Johnnies shot 46.3 percent (25-for-54) from the field and outrebounded the Chicago, Ill. squad 46-26. The Johnnies saw a 36-point contribution from its bench, which included top scorers Burrell and Brownlee, as well as Mason, Jr.

The St. John's resurgence hits the road to meet the perennial power of UConn on Wednesday at 7 p.m.




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