NEW YORK (AP)”Joey California” looked right at home in the heart of New York City as No. 18 UConn knocked off another Big East rival on its self-described ”revenge tour.”
Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points, Adama Sanogo added 18 points and nine rebounds, and the Huskies topped St. John’s 95-86 on Saturday.
”I was just impressed by the way that we played offensively,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. ”Just making shots, and we looked like a team that had some real offensive punch.”
Andre Jackson Jr. shook off flu-symptoms to score 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Joey Calcaterra also poured in 15 to lead a strong effort by UConn’s bench, and the resurgent Huskies (22-7, 11-7) avenged an 11-point loss to St. John’s at home last month.
”This is revenge week,” said Calcaterra, a graduate transfer from San Diego who was playing his first game at Madison Square Garden.
”We just came in locked in. We just had to get back to our roots and get back to what got us here,” he added. ”We just wanted to bring our best effort the second time around playing them.”
UConn won for the sixth time in seven games, closing in on a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament. It was the fourth time this month that the Huskies avenged a conference defeat in January, which came during the 2-6 skid that followed their 14-0 start.
”We’re like the best team in the country when our bench plays the way they played today,” Hawkins said.
AJ Storr had 20 points and Posh Alexander added 18 for the Red Storm (17-13, 7-12), who had won three of four.
David Jones scored 15 off the bench – all in the second half – and Joel Soriano marked Senior Day with 12 points and 11 rebounds for his 22nd double-double this season, most in Division I.
Soriano fouled out with 3:02 remaining and St. John’s down by 12.
There was plenty of jawing between the Big East foes before a split Garden crowd of 12,241 in a chippy game that included four technical fouls.
”It seemed like it was a home game, honestly, all the fans that we had,” said Huskies point guard Tristen Newton, who had eight assists and seven rebounds.
”It is Storrs South, as they say,” Calcaterra added.
UConn scored the first six points of the second half down low and opened the period with a 12-4 surge that gave the Huskies their largest lead, 62-45, with 13:31 remaining.
St. John’s trimmed it to nine with 9:32 left, but technical fouls on Dylan Addae-Wusu and Red Storm coach Mike Anderson led to four free throws by Hawkins over the next 5:10 that helped UConn build its lead back to 15.
Three reserves – Calcaterra, Nahiem Alleyne and 7-foot-2 freshman Donovan Clingan – keyed two quick spurts that put UConn in control late in the first half.
Alleyne hit a pull-up jumper and assisted on Clingan’s dunk during a 7-0 run capped by Calcaterra’s 3-pointer that gave the Huskies a 39-27 advantage.
St. John’s shaved it to seven before another 3 by Calcaterra completed a 10-2 surge that put UConn ahead by 15. Alexander converted a 3-point play and drained a 3 to send the Red Storm into the break down 50-41.
OFF THE BENCH
Clingan finished with nine points, six rebounds and five blocks in nearly 13 1/2 minutes. … The slumping Calcaterra, who didn’t play last Saturday against Seton Hall, matched his season high for points and scored in double figures for the first time since Dec. 20 against Georgetown. He played 17:25, his first time exceeding 10 minutes since Jan. 22.
UConn: With a pair of regular-season games remaining, the Huskies are two games ahead of Villanova and Seton Hall for fifth place in the Big East. The top five seeds automatically draw into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. … UConn improved to 67-59 at Madison Square Garden, which will host the Big East Tournament next month.
St. John’s: Headed for the 8-9 game in the first round of the Big East Tournament on March 8, likely against Butler. ”We’ve played everybody in our league. I think we can beat anybody and anybody can beat us. That’s what I see,” Anderson said. … Soriano’s 22 double-doubles are the most by a St. John’s player since Walter Berry had 28 in 1985-86.
UConn: Plays its home finale Wednesday night against DePaul before wrapping up the regular season Saturday at Villanova.
St. John’s: Closes the regular season next Saturday at No. 10 Marquette, which is nearing its first Big East title since 2013.
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