St. John’s 80, UCLA 65
LOS ANGELES (AP)—St. John’s found a valuable reward at the end of its 3,000-mile trip from the East Coast.
Marcus Hatten scored 23 points and the Red Storm easily dismissed UCLA’s lone run in the second half to beat the fading Bruins 80-65 Saturday.
“When you win at the most famous college arena in the world, it’s well worth it,” St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis said. “Even though UCLA is not having a great year, this is a huge win for our program. We held up to the pressure of playing UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on national television and we’ll have a nice trip home.”
The Red Storm (8-4) won their fifth straight over UCLA in the teams’ first meeting since 1987, when they also won at Pauley, 72-64.
“UCLA is still a magic name,” Hatten said. “When I got here, I looked at the rafters in amazement. I was trying to count all the national championships and I couldn’t believe it.”
Anthony Glover added 22 points for St. John’s, which led by 12 at halftime and allowed UCLA to get no closer than six points in the second half.
“Glover did a good job. He played hard and aggressive. He’s a 6-foot-5 warrior,” Jarvis said. “We are not that big, but we play big.”
UCLA (4-7) lost its second straight and fell to 2-5 at Pauley, where the Bruins and coach Steve Lavin are the frequent targets of derisive shouts this season. The final buzzer signaled another loud burst of booing.
“It’s challenging when you know the crowd is a little upset,” said Jason Kapono, who led UCLA with 22 points. “Anytime you lose on your home court back-to-back, it’s not a good sign. This is definitely the low point in our season.”
The Bruins were beaten 80-75 by crosstown rival Southern California on Wednesday, when Kapono was held to 10 points.
UCLA made just nine of 27 shots in the first half and their 23 points were a season low.
“We just didn’t make shots,” said Andre Patterson, who had six points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. “It was like a slow, ugly game. We couldn’t do anything about it.”
Kyle Cuffe added 11 points and 12 rebounds for St. John’s, which had lost four of its last six games. Despite Cuffe being the only starter standing 6-foot-7, the Red Storm controlled the boards 43-34 and outhustled the Bruins to loose balls.
“UCLA tried to come out and run with us,” Glover said. “They tried to do what we do and they got tired. They can’t keep up with us.”
The Bruins’ strongest sustained play of the second half came in a 15-4 run that left them trailing 44-38 with 12:54 remaining. Kapono hit his first 3-pointer of the game and scored off his own steal and T.J. Cummings added four points.
Cummings had 17 for UCLA, which shot 52 percent in the second half.
But the Red Storm responded with 10 straight points as part of a 13-2 run for their largest lead of the game, 57-40 with 8:42 remaining. Glover got things started by scoring inside, then dunked off a steal and later scored five straight points.
“Our key to winning is having a balanced team and to work together,” Hatten said. “We didn’t worry at all about UCLA’s record or if they were tired. We only worried about ourselves.”
Meanwhile, the Bruins dissolved into a series of miscues, including Cummings’ airball, then Kapono got stripped of the ball and missed his next time down the floor. The Bruins had 17 turnovers in the game.
“We’re in a tough stretch,” said Lavin, who faces mounting rumors about his job security. “It can shake your confidence. The reality is we just have to do a better job. You have to make your own breaks because they’re not going to give it to us.”
Kapono and Cummings were responsible for getting UCLA within nine points three times in the final five minutes, but by then fans had begun filing out of the arena and into the sunshine of a warm day.
The senior-junior duo scored 18 of UCLA’s final 21 points after struggling in the first half when Kapono had six points and Cummings four.
The Red Storm scored 11 points over the final 1:40, including seven free throws.