Saint Louis could not continue the Atlantic 10 string of success against the "Power Six" conferences. The Billikens struggled against No. 10 Wisconsin, taking their first loss of the season by a 63-57 final. Wisconsin will advance to the Cancun Challenge championship game against West Virginia, while the Billikens will play Old Dominion in the consolation game.
"That's a Big Ten-caliber team and this was big for us to come away with a win," said Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser.
The Billikens struggled all night, converting only 32% of their shots. Another major factor in the Billikens’ loss was the fact that they only made four three pointers (two in the final minute). Normally this team is very reliable on converting their three point shots.
Wisconsin also made Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis' most valuable player, an afterthought, keeping him scoreless on the bench for most of the first half. Despite the Badger defense, Evans did extend his double-digit scoring streak to 24 games.
This was Saint Louis’ first major challenge of the year. The Billikens went toe-to-toe with the Badgers for a good portion of the first half. However, it was a 5-0 run that gave the Badgers a 20-15 lead with 5:42 left in the first half and began to create some distance.
The Bills kept it close, but then Josh Gasser scored five straight points for Wisconsin to push their lead to eight late in the first half. The Billikens pulled within six points just before intermission, but Duje Dukan made a late layup to give the Badgers an eight point lead going into half.
Poor shooting plagued the Billikens again in the first five minutes of the second half. They only scored two points in that span, allowing the Badgers to extend their lead to 15 with 15:22 left in the second half. That’s when the Billikens finally exploited the mismatch Dwyane Evans created with Wisconsin’s front court.
Evans began to go to work, scoring 12 points in 14 minutes. Along with other contributions, the Billikens pulled within five with 1:44 left in the game. However, Wisconsin did not break and scored four more points to extend the lead back to nine. The Billikens scored a few late threes to make the final margin close.
The Billikens will play Old Dominion at 7 p.m. tomorrow on CBS Sports Network .