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March 9, 2010

UConn bounced early from tournament

NEW YORK -- UConn left the Big East tournament without winning a game for the fifth consecutive season. It appears likely there won't be an NCAA Tournament game to make up for that loss.

St. John's defeated the Huskies 73-51 on Tuesday, marking the first time the Red Storm has defeated UConn since February 2002 and extending UConn's tournament losing streak to six.

"I think it's a good time to reflect where we are today and how we ended up today," said UConn head coach Jim Calhoun. "This is certainly not typical. We've been beaten before and ended seasons on some sour notes before and some great notes. But I think maybe it's a good time to sit back."

Sean Evans had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. John's (17-14), which had lost three of four to close the regular season.

"I know it was a good win," said St. John's point guard Malik Boothe, who had eight points and nine assists. "We also can't celebrate on this win. Last year we were in the same position going against the same team in the next round and they pretty much had their way with us. We have to have the same focus tomorrow."

The Red Storm was up by 10 points midway through the first half, 13 at halftime and never allowed the Huskies (17-15) within eight after the break.

"UConn's teams are great and physical and I thought our guys did a great job of getting after them," said St. John's head coach Norm Roberts. "I don't think there's any team that plays harder than my team. My guys play hard every night. But I also think what they're doing right now is they're playing not only hard but they're playing with their hearts."

Paris Horne and Justin Brownlee had 13 points each for St. John's, which shot 50 percent against UConn -- No. 1 in the conference in defensive field goal percentage (38.9).

Kemba Walker had 12 points for UConn, which shot 37.5 percent from the field, 6-for-18 from the free throw line and committed 20 turnovers.

"It was definitely embarrassing," Walker said.

"It hurts," said Jerome Dyson, who scored four points and had nine turnovers. "That's kind of the way our season's been -- ups and downs. Can't get back up after this one.

"This is probably the worst I've felt personally about how I've played -- ever."

Calhoun, who missed seven games in the middle of the season for an undisclosed medical reason, wouldn't rule out playing in the NIT if the Huskies were invited.

"I have great respect for the NIT. Always have," Calhoun said. "We were fortunate enough in '88 to get our program going with a great NIT win. It's always a good time to make sure you look at your team, see what they have. Eight games by four points and under, we lost them all and that took an awful lot out of the team. I want to make sure if there's a step back on the court to play a basketball game that they would be able to bring emotion, energy and all the things you should bring to competition."

The Huskies finished the game with its reserves playing the final three minutes, much like their final regular-season loss at USF on Saturday.

UConn, which reached the Final Four last season, has not won a game in the Big East tournament since the 2005 quarterfinals. The losing streak includes last season's six-overtime quarterfinal loss to Syracuse.


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