(Sports Network) -- Dwight Hardy finished with 21 points, leading 23rd-ranked St. John's basketball program in a 76-51 rout of DePaul at Carnesecca Arena.
Paris Horne scored 14 points for St. John's (18-9, 10-5 Big East), which is back in the national rankings for the first time in 11 years. The resurgent Red Storm joined the poll this week for the first time since November 2000. D.J. Kennedy had 11 points and 10 rebounds in the victory, the fifth in a row for St. John's.
"Tonight's victory is an example of a team developing a hard edge and maturity that will bode well for us coming down the home stretch and into the postseason," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin.
Cleveland Melvin scored 16 points to lead the Blue Demons (7-20, 1-14), who have dropped two in a row since beating Providence. DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell said his team did not play well, but added that the Red Storm's 2-3 zone defense played a big part in that.
"That's probably the best zone that we've seen all year long, and they are playing with a lot of confidence," Purnell said.
The Red Storm used a 9-0 run, which Hardy bookended with layups, to take a 15-7 lead.
They continued to hold a small advantage until late in the half, when they took control with a 12-0 stretch. Kennedy and Hardy capped the burst with three-pointers, putting St. John's up 33-14. The Red Storm carried a 37-22 lead into the break.
Hardy's three-point play a little more than two minutes in extended the St. John's lead to 44-24, and the Blue Demons' shooting struggles allowed the Red Storm to pull away further.
Dwayne Polee II dunked with just under 13 minutes remaining, ending an eight- point run and giving the Red Storm a 57-28 lead, and they cruised from there.
The St. John's basketball schedule features the Red Storm traveling to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon to play the Villanova Wildcats (2 p.m.). Next week, the Johnnies will conclude its regular season by playing at the Seton Hall Pirates, Thursday (7 p.m.), March 3, and hosting the South Florida Bulls, Saturday (8 p.m.), March 5.
|Final - 2.23.2011||1||2||Total|
|DePaul Blue Demons||22||29||51|
|St. John's Red Storm||37||39||76|