NEW YORK (AP) — Femi Olujobi had 27 points and eight rebounds in his New York homecoming and DePaul pulled away from No. 24 St. John’s, beating the short-handed Red Storm 79-71 on Saturday night for its first win over a ranked team in almost three years.
Star guard Shamorie Ponds sat out with a lower back strain for St. John’s (14-3, 2-3 Big East), which dropped its second straight game since moving into the AP Top 25 for the first time in four years.
Paul Reed added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Demons (10-5, 2-2), who snapped a 17-game skid against ranked opponents that dated to a victory over No. 11 Providence in February 2016. The last time the Blue Demons defeated a ranked foe on the road was a season earlier at No. 24 Seton Hall.
Max Strus had 14 points and 12 rebounds for DePaul, which has won two in a row following a three-game slide. Eli Cain also scored 14.
Olujobi, from nearby Long Island, was a force inside, shooting 11 of 19 in 34 minutes.
LJ Figueroa led the Red Storm with 23 points. Justin Simon scored 20 and Marvin Clark had 14 on 6-of-16 shooting, including 1 for 7 from 3-point range.
Playing at Carnesecca Arena on campus, St. John’s was whistled for 21 fouls to nine for DePaul. Red Storm coach Chris Mullin flashed his anger and was called for a technical with 5:04 remaining.
DePaul shot 17 of 28 at the free-throw line, while St. John’s was 4 for 6.
Bryan Trimble Jr. started in place of Ponds, who watched quietly from the bench in sweat pants and a red polo shirt. The junior guard, the Big East preseason player of the year, ranks third in the league in scoring at 20.6 points per game. He is first in assists (6.0) and steals (2.7), and was one of 25 players in the country selected to the midseason watch list for the Wooden Award this week.
St. John’s said Ponds initially was injured at Georgetown last Saturday, when he scored 37 points during an overtime victory. He played through the problem and had 23 points Tuesday night in a 76-71 loss at defending national champion Villanova.
Ponds had started all 16 games this season. St. John’s went 1-2 without him last season.
St. John’s honored late star Solly Walker, the first black player to wear a varsity uniform at the school. Walker helped lead St. John’s to the 1952 NCAA championship game and the 1953 NIT title game and was inducted into the university’s athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. His family was on hand for a ceremony to announce the newly created Solly Walker Academic Support Services Fund and the dedication of the Solly Walker Academic Study Hall.
DePaul: Back home Wednesday night against Butler, looking to snap a nine-game losing streak in the series.
St. John’s: Stay home to face Creighton on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena.