UCLA's road woes continued Saturday when the Bruins lost, 66-63, to St. John's in a nonconference game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Bruins (15-12) fell to 2-6 in road games and have only one win against a Division I team outside of Southern California. St. John's improved to 11-16.
OVERVIEW:the game was close throughout as neither team led by more than six points, but every time UCLA tied or took the lead, St. John's made a run. The Red Storm took the lead for good on an alley-oop dunk by Sir'Dominic Pointer that broke a 45-45 tie midway through the second half.
The Bruins were within a point twice over the rest of the half and were within two with 45 seconds to play, but Phil Greene tipped in a missed 3-point shot by Pointer for a 66-62 St. John's lead with six seconds to play.
The Red Storm inexplicably fouled on the next possession, giving the Bruins some hope and Jerime Anderson made one of two free throws to cut the lead to 66-63. St. John's forward Moe Harkless grabbed the rebound on Anderson's miss and was immediately fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, but David Wear's three-quarter court shot at the final buzzer missed.
D'Angelo Harrison had 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead St. John's.
TURNING POINT: With St. John's holding a 54-53 lead and 8:00 left to play, Pointer threw down a dunk and after a quick UCLA miss, Harkless grabbed a rebound and made a nice pass inside to Greene for an easy layup and a 58-53 lead with 7:35 to play.
UCLA called a timeout to stop the momentum, but committed turnovers on it's next two possessions and never really recovered. The Bruins made only two of their final 14 shots form the field as they seemed to run out of gas playing against the quicker, more athletic Red Storm.
UCLA STAR OF THE GAME: Forward Travis Wear had a double-double for the second consecutive game with 11 points and 13 rebounds. He kept the Bruins close down the stretch with six points in the final 3:17, including two on offensive rebound putbacks.
Guard Tyler Lamb also had a good game with a team-best 18 points with six rebounds and four assists, but he also had eight turnovers, twice stepping out of bounds with the ball and other times trying to force passes.
STAT OF THE GAME: St. John's had 19 offensive rebounds and 26 second-chance points, using speed and quickness to continually beat the bigger, slower Bruins to loose balls and long rebounds.
The Bruins had a major size advantage with the Wear twins and Joshua Smith each at 6-10 and the Red Storm featuring only one player at 6-8, but the Bruins still only held a 40-39 edge in total rebounds and simply could not box out the smaller players on St. John's misses.
St. John's shot only 36.9 percent from the field, but the Red Storm, a 67.8-percent free throw shooting team for the season, made 14 of 16 free throws.
WHAT IT MEANS: Not much. The nonconference game wasn't going to make or break UCLA's season, but the continued inability to pull out close games on the road could prove troublesome as the Bruins head on a two-game Pac-12 trip to Arizona State and Arizona next week.
The Bruins are hoping to secure one of the valuable top-four seeds in the Pac-12 tournament, but currently sit in sixth place and can ill afford another conference loss if they want to having to win four games in four days to earn an NCAA tournament berth.