NEW YORK (AP) — St. John’s came up with a big win by doing all the little things.
In a matchup of teams going through disappointing seasons and with little chance of postseason play, the Red Storm used a slew of hustle plays to beat UCLA 66-63 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
The biggest of those hustle plays came with 6.5 seconds to play when Phil Greene tipped in D’Angelo Harrison’s 3-point attempt as the shot clock ran out.
The offensive rebound was the first of the game for Greene, a 6-foot-2 guard, and the 19th for St. John’s (11-16). It gave the Red Storm a 66-62 lead on their way to ending a four-game losing streak.
“I think we play scrappier than they do,” said St. John’s Moe Harkless, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds, six offensive. “We got a lot of offensive rebounds and I think we just played harder than they did,”
D’Angelo Harrison scored 22 points for St. John’s, which finished with 19 offensive rebounds that it turned into a 26-15 advantage in second-chance points.
“Obviously the number that stands out is the offensive rebounds,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “We weren’t quick enough to the ball. They got the loose balls. They got the second shots. We held them to 37 percent shooting but it was those second shots. They had three air balls they got back and scored on.”
Jerime Anderson made one of two free throws for UCLA (15-12) with 4.7 seconds left. Harkless missed the front of a 1-and-1 with 3 seconds left but the ball bounced around for a second or two and the Bruins didn’t get off a good shot to tie at the buzzer.
Last season’s matchup in this game was Steve Lavin of St. John’s against his former school, and UCLA prevailed 66-59 at home.
Lavin, who is recovering from prostate cancer surgery on Oct. 6, watched the game from a suite high above the court and did an in-game interview with CBS where he reiterated that he will be back next season.
Sir’Dominic Pointer had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Red Storm, who prevailed in the matchup of the Big East and Pac-12.
.”There’s a difference,” St. John’s assistant coach Mike Dunlap said. “There’s jazz on the East Coast and jazz on the West Coast. This is the same deal, there’s definitely a difference. On the West Coast typically it’s finesse, it’s run It’s more wide-open typically and the East Coast has been more lockdown possession by possession, grind it out.”
After being outrebounded 39-26 in a 30-point loss to Seton Hall on Tuesday, Dunlap said the team had to adapt more of a “gang tackle” approach off the glass.
Tyler Lamb had 18 points and David Wear and Joshua Smith both had 13 points for the Bruins. Travis Wear had 11 points and 13 rebounds for UCLA, which outrebounded St. John’s 40-39 overall.
Lamb tried to explain what happened on the play where Greene got the tip-in with 6.5 seconds left.
“We got caught looking,” he said. “You can’t take anything away from them. We have to have that sense of urgency to get that rebound. They did a good job of getting second shots.”
UCLA finished with 16 turnovers, well above its average of 11 per game, and eight were committed by Lamb.
“It was unacceptable to have eight turnovers. That hurt our team and they were mostly costly turnovers,” he said. “They scored every time I turned the ball over. I’ve just got to slow down. Maybe I tried to do too much today.”
Pointer’s dunk with 13:16 left gave the Red Storm the lead for good at 47-45. The Bruins got within one point twice, the last at 54-53 on a rebound basket by Travis Wear.
Wear’s rebound basket with 43 seconds left brought the Bruins to 64-62. The Red Storm ran the shot clock down and Harrison took the 3 that Greene tipped in.
Lavin coached UCLA for seven seasons and went to the NCAA tournament in all but the last year. He took over at St. John’s last season and led the Red Storm to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002.
He has coached four games this season but hasn’t been on the bench Nov. 18 as per doctors’ orders. He has been on modified duty, handling recruiting and alumni duties.
Lavin said he continues to go “week by week” as he follows doctors’ orders to stay off the bench because of the energy required to give 100 percent.