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No. 5 UConn survives Big East challenge from St. John’s

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Tristen Newton hit the tie-breaking layup with 2:22 left Saturday night for No. 5 UConn, which hung on to edge visiting St. John’s 69-65 in their Big East Conference matchup in Hartford, Conn.

UConn (11-2, 1-1 Big East) mounted a 20-7 run in the second half to turn an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead with 13:08 left. But St. John’s (8-4, 1-1) closed within one point four times before Glenn Taylor Jr. sank a 3-pointer with 4:15 remaining to put the Red Storm up 63-61.

Stephon Castle’s third-chance tap-in tied the game on the next trip for UConn.

The teams traded empty trips before Newton’s layup. Chris Ledlum missed a 3-pointer that would have given St. John’s the lead, and Castle’s fast break layup extended the Huskies’ lead to 67-63 instead.

Joel Soriano drained a sky hook for St. John’s with 1:31 left. UConn missed two shots on its next possession, but Ledlum went 0-for-2 at the line with 17 seconds remaining.

Newton split a pair of free throws and the Red Storm’s Daniss Jenkins missed a contested 3-pointer before Hassan Diarra iced the win by hitting one of two free throws with five seconds remaining.

Samson Johnson had 16 points, while Newton and Cam Spencer finished with 15 apiece for UConn, which played without center Donovan Clingan. The school announced earlier Saturday that Clingan will miss up to four weeks with a right foot injury suffered in Wednesday’s 75-60 loss to Seton Hall.

Soriano (14 points, 11 rebounds) posted his fifth straight double-double and his eighth of the season for St. John’s. Jenkins had 13 points while Jordan Dingle had nine points and Ledlum added eight points and eight assists.

UConn scored the first six points and opened on an 11-3 run, after which St. John’s scored nine straight points. The Huskies took a pair of 3-point leads before Soriano scored eight points to spark a half-ending 18-9 surge by the Red Storm, who took a 32-26 lead at the half thanks to Jenkins’ jumper with 34 seconds left.

Taylor opened the second half with a layup for St. John’s, but UConn mounted a 10-0 run and went ahead 36-34 on a pair of free throws by Spencer.

–Field Level Media

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