Thursday, February 18, 2016

St. John’s snaps 16-game losing streak with 80-65 win over DePaul

It's been 31 years since Chris Mullin participated in Big East victory and finally, now as the St. John's coach, the former Johnnies star is back in the win column.

Mullin won 44 Big East regular-season games as a player at St. John’s, but it took 14 Big East games to get his first conference win as a coach.

The Red Storm snapped a school-record 16-game losing streak (including a 0-13 start in the Big East) with a 80-65 victory over DePaul Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena on Bill Wennington Bobblehead Night — in honor of Mullin’s former teammate on that wondrous 1985 Final Four team.

Federico Mussini scored all 17 of his points in the second half for the Johnnies (8-19, 1-13) in their first victory of 2016 and their first since beating former Big East rival Syracuse, 84-72, at the Garden on Dec. 13.

“It’s somewhat of a relief and somewhat justified,” Mullin said. “They got a win and they had played well enough to win. They just haven’t broken through. You can only do so much. They have to break through themselves.”

The Red Storm were in front by nine at the end of the first half, but didn't seem to know how to handle a lead. They let the Blue Demons (8-17, 2-11) open the second half on an 8-0 run to jump ahead, 32-31.

The Johnnies 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 stretched it to 20 with six minutes left.

DePaul got as close as 74-65 in the frenetic final few minutes.

“From a basketball point it was brutal,” Mullin said of the streak. “But they can’t take this to the next game. They have to perform. They’ll feel better about themselves but the preparation and approach won’t vary.”

And maybe a Walter Berry Bobblehead Night wouldn't hurt either.

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