Courtesy of SLUBillikens.com
ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis opened the second half with a 21-5 run and coasted to its 10th consecutive victory, a 70-53 Atlantic 10 Conference decision over Saint Joseph’s Wednesday night in front of 10,012 fans at Chaifetz Arena.
The Billikens (22-5, 11-2 A-10), ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press and No. 19 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, extended their lead in the A-10 to a full game over VCU and two full games over Butler and La Salle with three games remaining.
Up next for Saint Louis is a trip to George Washington for a 3 p.m. (CT) tip-off Saturday, March 2.
The 10-game Saint Louis winning streak is the longest active streak in the A-10 and the eighth longest in the nation. The Billikens have won 10 straight for the first time since the 1993-94 squad began the season 14-0. Eight of the 10 wins have been by a double-digit margin.
The SLU defense delivered again, holding Saint Joseph’s to its lowest point total in an A-10 game and its lowest shooting percentage (.326) overall this season. The 17-point margin was the Hawks’ second-worst defeat in a league contest this year.
Dwayne Evans led the Billikens with 21 points and 12 rebounds (five offensive), the junior forward’s third double-double in the last six outings. Evans, who topped the 20-point mark for a fourth time this season, sank a career-high nine free throws in a season-high 11 attempts as SLU went 19-of-24 (.792) from the line. He also equaled career highs with three blocks and three steals.
Rob Loe tallied 11 points and six rebounds, while Mike McCall Jr. added 10 points and a game-high five assists.Jake Barnett grabbed six rebounds for the Bills, whose 41-29 advantage on the glass included a 15-9 edge in offensive boards. Kwamain Mitchell contributed four assists.
Leading just 29-27 at halftime, Saint Louis began to take command by scoring on its first three second-half possessions. Loe sank two free throws, Mitchell nailed a trey from the left wing and Evans added a free throw for a 35-27 lead.
C.J. Aiken and Grandy Glaze exchanged baskets, and Saint Joseph’s trimmed the SLU lead to 37-31 on a Roberts dunk. That was as close as the Hawks would come, however, as the Billikens embarked on a 13-1 spurt that all but put the game away.
Jett ignited the run with a three-point play. McCall Jr. buried a 3-pointer from the right wing, Mitchell made a fast-break layup, and Barnett turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play that made it 48-32. Jett’s strong drive down the lane put the Bills in front 50-32.
Saint Joseph’s scored the next two baskets, but Saint Louis soon began a streak of nine straight and 10 of 11 possessions in which the Billikens scored, negating a late Saint Joseph’s scoring surge.
Evans netted eight straight points and fed McCall Jr. for an easy layup for a 60-43 cushion. Loe scored the next four points on a layup and two free throws, McCall Jr. drove for a bucket, and Evans drained four consecutive free throws.
After Saint Joseph’s scored the first basket of the game, Saint Louis took a 9-4 lead on a Mitchell free throw, McCall Jr.’s 3-pointer from the right wing, and a layup and 3-pointer by Loe.
A field goal and two free throws by Roberts cut the lead to a point, but Cory Remekun tallied the next seven SLU points on a three-point play, a thunderous dunk and a one-handed bank shot to put the Billikens on top 16-9. An Evans layup made it 18-10.
The Hawks got a baseline drive from Aiken and a Galloway 3-pointer to narrow the gap to three, but a 9-2 spurt expanded the Billiken lead to double digits.
Jett began the run with a pair of free throws, and Cody Ellis buried a triple from the left wing. When Evans hit two from the stripe and followed with a strong driving layup, Saint Louis led 27-17.
However, an Evans pull-up jumper provided the only points in the Bills’ final seven possessions. A 10-2 Saint Joseph’s flurry pulled the Hawks to within a bucket at the break.