NEW YORK (AP) Shamorie Ponds scored 18 points, had seven assists and led a second-half surge as St. John's gave their NCAA hopes a boost with a much-needed 82-74 victory against DePaul in the first round of the Big East Tournament Wednesday night.
The seventh-seeded Red Storm (21-11) will face No. 2 seed Marquette in the third game of the quadruple header at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. St. John's avoided being swept three games by the 10th-seeded Blue Demons (15-15), burying DePaul in the second half.
Eli Cain led DePaul with 23 points before fouling out late.
St. John's seemed positioned to coast into the conference tournament with a high seed and an NCAA bid pretty much locked up just two weeks ago. The Johnnies proceeded to finish the regular season with three straight losses, including a nine-point loss at DePaul. With a chance to be the third seed at MSG, St. John's slid all the way into a high-stakes opening night matchup.
The Johnnies led by four at the half behind Justin Simons' 12 points, but not until Ponds became more assertive did they put some distance between themselves and the Blue Demons. >> Read More
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