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Red Storm scores ‘huge’ win over struggling UCLA

The St. John’s University men’s basketball team got a much-needed win Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, soundly defeating the once-mighty, now struggling UCLA Bruins, 80-65.

The Red Storm (8-4, 1-1), which was coming off a disheartening 75-71 Big East loss to the providence Friars three days before, had all the answers against the Bruins, as four players finished in double figures, including grad student and captain Anthony Glover.

In perhaps his finest performance of the season, the Bronx native out of Rice High School scored 22 points with 9 rebounds and 3 steals while providing the emotional leadership the team has seemed to lack at points this season.

“Glover did a good job,” said head coach Mike Jarvis. “He played hard and aggressive. He’s a 6-foot-5 warrior. We are not that big, but we play big.”

Senior guard Marcus Hatten started the scoring with a quick basket 12 seconds into the game, and a putback by Eric King made the score 4-0 at 16:57. UCLA then went on an 8-1 run that lasted until Hatten scored his second field goal of the game at the 12:33 mark of the first half.

The two teams traded the lead twice and shared it twice until Hatten and Kyle Cuffe scored back-to-back buckets a minute apart to give St. John’s a 22-18 advantage. And while the game remained competitive through most of the remaining 15 minutes, UCLA would never lead again.

Hatten and Cuffe hit consecutive threes for the Storm to push the lead to 28-20, forcing a UCLA time-out that barely stemmed the flow. Following another Glover basket, St. John’s hit 6-of-6 from the line down the stretch of the first half to take a 35-23 lead into halftime.

“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 Red Storm scored the first two baskets of the second half to push the lead to 16, 39-23, but UCLA refused to fold quickly. Slowly the Bruins started to chip away at the Red Storm’s lead, getting within six after an Andre Patterson basket with 12:54 remaining.

But SJU responded quickly, scoring 10 straight points, led by Glover, who scored 7 in the stretch.

UCLA cut the deficit to single digits down the stretch, but St. John’s had an answer every time. The Storm hit 7-of-8 from the line in the final two minutes to seal the win.

In addition to Glover’s solid game, Hatten led the Johnnies with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Cuffe finished with a double-double, 12 rebounds and 11 points, and Elijah Ingram had 10 points and 4 assists. Both King and Tristan Smith finished with 7 points apiece to round out the Storm’s scoring.

“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.”

Jason Kapono led UCLA, now 4-7, with 22 points and 8 rebounds. T.J. Cummings added 17.

“When you win at the most famous college arena in the world, it’s well worth it,” 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 will hit the road again to take on Georgetown Saturday at noon.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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