Reeves Nelson grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, and hit a clutch three-pointer in the final minute, leading the UCLA Bruins to a 66-59 victory over the St. John's Red Storm at Pauley Pavilion. The victory was the seventh in the last eight games for UCLA, who beat former coach Steve Lavin, in his first season at St. John's. The Bruins' victory also snapped a six-game losing streak by the Bruins against St. John's, though the two schools hadn't faced one another before today since 2004.
UCLA built a 60-50 lead with five minutes remaining, but St. John's chipped away at the lead as the Bruins missed several free throws down the stretch. UCLA missed six of their last eight free throw attempts. After St. John's cut the lead to 62-59 with under a minute remaining, Nelson hit a fall-away three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining to widen the Bruins' lead to six, essentially putting the game away. Nelson made just three of 15 three-pointers on the season before that make. St. John's didn't score again.
Freshman center Joshua Smith tied a season high with 19 points, on eight-of-10 shooting, and also grabbed eight rebounds himself. The Bruins outrebounded the Red Storm 40-28. Guard Dwight Hardy led St. John's with 32 points, scoring over half of his team's points. Hardy made 13 of 24 field goals, while his Red Storm teammates made just 12 of 39 shots.
The Bruins host the Oregon schools next week, beginning with a Thursday night tilt against the Ducks at Pauley Pavilion. For more information on today's game, be sure to read Bruins Nation.