Despite senior guard Dwight Hardy' scoring a collegiate-best 32 points, the St. John's Red Storm lost Saturday afternoon, 66-59, at the UCLA Bruins in a non-conference game at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The Bruins (16-7, 7-3) snapped a six-game losing streak to the Red Storm (13-9, 5-5) and spoiled Steve Lavin's homecoming. St. John's also had it's current two-game winning streak end.
Trailing 42-32 with 14:06 remaining in the game, St. John's made a charge that cut the margin to 60-55 with about four minutes to go. Senior guard Malik Boothe hit a jump shot to cut UCLA's lead to 60-57 with 3:23 remaining but the Johnnies never got closer.
Late in the game, St. John's had two chances to tie but senior forward Justin Brownlee dribbled the ball off his foot, which caused a turnover, then he missed two shots on a transition play that featured the 6-foot-7 forward trying to power a lay up past three Bruin players.
Freshmen center Josh Smith scored a team-best 19 points for UCLA, which went 27-of-41 from the free-throw line. St. John's went just 5-of-7 from the charity stripe. The Bruins also had 18 turnovers to the Red Storm's 10.
For St. John's, freshman forward Dwayne Polee Jr. and senior forward D.J. Kennedy had just six points.
The St. John's basketball schedule features the Red Storm hosting the Connecticut Huskies (No. 6 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) on Thursday (7 p.m.). Next Sunday, the Johnnies are at the Cincinnati Bearcats (noon).