Dec. 16, 2012
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QUEENS, N.Y. - Jasmine Dixon's lay-up with 1.2 seconds left lifted No. 14/17 UCLA to a 53-52 overtime victory over St. John's on Sunday in the championship game of the St. John's Chartwells Holiday Classic. Down 22-6 in the first half, the Red Storm rallied to take the lead in the second half and eventually send the contest to overtime.
St. John's led by senior guard Shenneika Smith's 25 points, outscored UCLA 28-23 in the second half, after being down 22-17 at halftime. For the fourth-straight time, Smith was named to the St. John's Chartwells Holiday Classic All-Tournament team. Red Storm rookie Aliyyah Handford, who had eight points against the Bruins and 10 against Tennessee Tech in Saturday's game, was also selected to the All-Tournament Team.
For UCLA (7-1), Dixon and Markel Walker earned All-Tournament honors, while forward Alyssia Brewer, who finished the game with a team high for the Bruins with 14 points and 15 rebounds, was named the Tournament MVP.
Trailing by one, Markel Walker inbounded the ball to Dixon for the wide-open basket. Smith's 60-foot fling was short at the buzzer.
“It’s tough to lose a game like that,” remarked head coach Joe Tartamella. “It was a great basketball game with two good teams going at each other. I was proud of the way that we were able to come back in the first half. We had opportunities, we hung around and we stayed true to what we were trying to accomplish from a game plan stand point. Our difficulty scoring came around again here in the first half. We did a good job of wearing them down and then we got a little worn down toward the end. But, I’m proud of our effort and this was a good game for growth.”
Nadirah McKenith gave the Red Storm (5-4) a 52-51 lead with a lay-in with 25 seconds left.
After a timeout, Brewer caught the ball in the block and forced a shot up with 2.5 seconds left. It missed and went out of bounds off the Red Storm giving UCLA a final chance.
McKenith finished the game with nine points, a season-best six assists, two blocks and three steals.
UCLA trailed 45-43 with 21 seconds left in regulation when Brewer made a under the basket pass from the post to Dixon for an easy lay-in to tie the game. St. John's had a chance to win in regulation but Smith's 3-pointer from the wing was off the rim.
In the first half, the Bruins led 22-6 through the first 15 minutes of action.
From there, the Red Storm went on an 11-0 run that went into the halftime break.
Smith sparked the run with a 3-pointer from McKenith at 5:07. Forward Mary Nwachukwu helped out with a layup under the basket dished in by Smith, scored after a UCLA turnover. Cutting the Bruins lead to four, 22-17, Smith capped off the run and the half with two free throws with 1:04 on the clock.
Coming back from halftime, the teams traded baskets until St. John's went on a 9-0 run to take a 32-28 lead as Handford scored off another McKenith assist. Handford also scored the tying baskets as she made the one-of-two free throws with 13:46 left in regulation.
UCLA cut the St. John's lead to one, 32-31 as Nirra Field hit a 3-pointer assisted by Walker with 10:35 remaining. But back-to-back jumpers by Smith and McKenith gave the Red Storm back a five-point, 36-31 lead with 9:54 left.
UCLA tied it up at 36-36 with 6:42 remaining with a free throw by Dixon.
Through the final six minutes, the game was tied four more times before going into the overtime period at 45-45.
In the second half, St. John's scored 12 points off fast break points and 10 off UCLA turnovers. Despite UCLA's advantage in size, the Red Storm also outscored the Bruins in the paint, 16-10.
Junior guard Briana Brown played the entire 45 minutes for St. John's. She had four points with eight rebounds.
Nwachukwu blocked a career-best five shots.
Up next, the Red Storm will look to rebound from Sunday's loss on the road at Quinnipiac. St. John's will travel to Hamden, Conn., to face the Bobcats of the Northeast Conference in a 1 p.m. tip off on Saturday, Dec. 22.