With two of its top players on the bench in foul trouble, third-ranked Gonzaga got key rebounds and free throws from its reserves during a critical fourth-period stretch to hold off archrival St. John's, 65-61, in a Metro Conference game yesterday at Gonzaga.

St. John's Coach Joe Gallagher was called for a costly technical foul late in the game when he argued a foul call. Gonzaga converted four free throws -- two technicals and two on the foul Gallagher debated -- to open an eight-point lead with 54 seconds left. The Cadets could not recover.

After starters Jacob Morton (26 points) and David Credle (nine points) went to the bench at the start of the fourth period, Gonzaga (10-1, 2-0 in the conference) relied on reserve guards Derek Brown and Dave Walsh to hold off the Cadets (5-6, 0-2). St John's led, 40-35, at the end of three periods.

Brown scored off an offensive rebound, then made a pair of free throws to narrow the lead to 40-39. Walsh later hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 42-40 Gonzaga.

St. John's stayed close until the final four minutes on outside jumpers from Steve Strachan (17 points) and Gerald Martin (15 points).

With Gonzaga leading, 50-47, Brown made one of two free throws. Martin then kept the Cadets in range by hitting a pair of foul shots, but Morton followed with two more free throws for a 53-49 lead with 1:16 left.

St. John's became unraveled during the final minute and Gallagher didn't help when he was called for a two-shot bench technical with 54 seconds to go when he complained about a foul call on one of his players.

Martin made the four free throws to make it 57-49. Strachan and Martin both made three-pointers during the final 30 seconds. But the Eagles, who made 19 of 22 free throws in the fourth period and 31 of 38 for the game, put it away at the foul line.