NEW YORK – Brittany Hrynko scored 21 points to help DePaul beat St. John's 80-65 on Saturday and clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season championship.
The Blue Demons can win their first Big East conference title outright and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a victory over Georgetown on Monday or a loss by Creighton in one of its final two games.
This would be DePaul's first conference title since the Blue Demons won the Conference USA championship in 2004-05.
The Blue Demons (23-6, 14-3 Big East) were the preseason conference favorite and have won 12 of their last 13 games. The lone loss in that span was at Marquette on Feb. 18.
DePaul or Creighton would become the first team in the current conference configuration to win the regular season title since Georgetown shared it in 1997. Connecticut, Notre Dame and Rutgers have won every one since.
It's been a roller-coaster season for the Red Storm (19-9, 12-5). They started out 5-1 before hitting a low when they were swept in their own tournament in the middle of December. Second-year coach Joe Tartamella seemed to right the ship when St. John's rattled off 11 straight victories after a loss to Xavier, which saw the Red Storm have a 14-hour bus trip to Ohio because of a winter storm.
That streak put St. John's in control of the conference, but the Red Storm have lost their last four games — including blowing a 23-point lead to Marquette on Wednesday and now Saturday's loss. They are trying to hold on to a top four seed in the conference. The Big East will hold its postseason tournament in Chicago beginning next weekend with the finals set for Tuesday, March 11.
The game was tied at 20 midway through the first half before DePaul went on a 13-3 run with Jessica January scoring five points during the spurt. Her 3-pointer made it 33-23 with 4:59 left in the first half. The Blue Demons led 43-36 at the break.
St. John's scored four points to start the second half and trailed 43-40, but could get no closer as DePaul scored the next eight points. The Red Storm only got within nine the rest of the way.
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