J.R. Henderson (file photo).

Bruins hold off Saint Louis, 73-67


Dec. 20, 1997

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA ran its way to five straight victories, scoring an average of 91 points, until Saint Louis brought its slow-down tempo into Pauley Pavilion.

The 11th-ranked Bruins detest playing at half-speed. In the past, it's brought out the worst in them, raising their levels of frustration and impatience to all-time highs.

Not this season.

J.R. Henderson scored 19 points and UCLA made 12 of 16 free throws over the final 6:12 to hold off Saint Louis 73-67 Saturday, snapping the Billikens' eight-game winning streak.

"Just two days ago, we were ripping and running up and down the court and now we play this Princeton-type team. It's terrible," said Henderson, who got double- and triple-teamed playing center in place of the suspended Jelani McCoy.

"All I wanted to do was just yell at the refs and get mad at the world. You can't do that. You've got to fight through all that and keep playing," he said.

The Bruins (6-1) won their sixth straight game after trailing by seven points early in the second half and watching the Billikens (8-1) get within two with 2:41 remaining on a dunk by Larry Hughes.

Virgel Cobbin fouled Toby Bailey, who hit both free throws and Kris Johnson scored the next time down the floor to increase UCLA's lead to 66-60 with 2:05 to play.

"It was hard, especially since we've been able to run up and down in the last couple games," said Bailey, who had 15 points and eight rebounds playing the entire 40 minutes. "It was a little difficult to slow it down and work the ball around more than usual, but we started doing that late in the game."

Hughes, the nation's second-highest scoring freshman with a 22-point average, finished with 14 before fouling out with 42 seconds left.

Cobbin had 17 points for the Billikens, who are winless in the seven-game series with UCLA.

Hughes was one of four Saint Louis players to foul out, hampering the Billikens for much of the final 10 minutes.

"We fouled too much. They're smart and aggressive," Saint Louis coach Charlie Spoonhour said. "We did too much banging and reaching and didn't rebound."

They still managed to keep it close on the shooting of Hughes and John Redden, but UCLA keep getting to the free throw line as Matt Baniak, Ryan Luechtefeld, Chris Heinrich and Hughes fouled out.

"We had a thin bench today and that hurt us in the long run," Hughes said. "They took the ball strong to us and we had the foul outs."

Henderson remembers the 43-41 loss to Princeton in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament, in which the high-flying Bruins got grounded by the slow pace.

"A few years ago, me, Toby and Kris probably would have been barking at each other, saying, `Why aren't you doing this,"' he said. "Today showed how mature we are. We've got to set the tone for the freshmen."

Saint Louis increasingly lost its height advantage as its tallest players fouled out, leaving the shorter Bruins to grab the rebounds they failed to get earlier.

The Billikens, who trailed by one at halftime, scored the first eight points of the second half to take their largest lead, 36-29. Then the Bruins used a 10-3 run, including a 3-pointer by Davis and five points by Henderson, to tie the game 39-39.