After 19 straight wins, the Saint Louis Billikens have decided to begin another streak, but this streak comes at the worst time in the season. Saint Louis still somewhat effected by Thursday’s loss to the Duquesne Dukes, struggled in their first trip to Virginia Commonwealth, losing their second straight game, 67-56. Their energy was zapped, they looked sluggish and struggled against VCU’s "HAVOC."
VCU claimed their biggest victory of the year against a struggling Saint Louis team. They are now third place in the conference standings, which gives them a more favorable position for the upcoming Atlantic 10 conference tournament.
This was SLU’s first loss on the road this season. Even more alarming for the Billikens is that their dominant lead over the A-10 conference has been reduced to one game. Now, Saint Joseph’s is coming on strong to challenge the Billikens for their top seed in the A-10 standings.
SLU lacked energy once again in the first half. They began to play within their offensive in the first half, but seem to lack energy like they did against Duquesne. They struggle to make baskets and did not convert their easy opportunities. Another problem was for SLU was turnovers.
The Rams capitalized off the Billikens lack of energy for the first half by forcing turnovers. VCU did not pull away from the Billikens for the first eight minutes, but slowly built a double-digit lead toward the final four minutes of the first half. They forced 9 turnovers against the Billikens in the first half which gave the Rams a lot of fast break opportunities that they capitalized on in the first half.
A 10-0 run with 6:45 left in the first half, gave VCU a 15 point lead with 1:30 left in the first half. VCU Forward Juvonte Reddic and Guard Melvin Johnson were instrumental during that run. They pressured the Billikens consistently and scored a lot of baskets in transition. Their athleticism and size were a mismatch for the Billikens.
The Billikens responded with a 7-0 run, but still found themselves down 10 points at halftime. SLU Guard Austin McBroom provided a brief spark off the bench, however, it was not enough to overcome VCU’s strength and aggressiveness that the Billikens were lacking today.
SLU’s defensive only allowed VCU to score 6 points in the first nine minutes in the second half. The problem was that the Bills did not convert off of the VCU cold streak. They got the game within 7 points, but that was the closest they got in the game.
VCU continued to pressure Saint Louis. In the second half, used their half court defensive to force SLU Guard Jordair Jett and the other SLU Guards into some bad decisions and rushed plays.
Austin McBroom had an opportunity to cut the VCU lead to 6 points with 2:21 left in the game, but he knocked the ball off his leg and VCU reclaimed a double-digit lead to put the game away.
Rams Guard Briante Weber scored 8 points in the second half and made some key defensive stops to undercut any momentum the Billikens was gaining in the second half. Weber is primarily known for his defense, but was strong on offense today.
The Billikens now find themselves in a difficult position. They had a three game lead in the conference standings, but that lead has been reduced to one game after two straight losses. If they win against the Dayton Flyers or the Massachusetts Minutemen, they claim a share of the A-10 regular season. However, St. Joe’s has come on strong lately and now find themselves only one game behind the Bills for first place in the A-10 conference standings.
Saint Louis will return home for their final home game against Dayton on Wednesday, March 5 at 9 p.m. eastern time. Virginia Commonwealth will play the Richmond Spiders in their final conference road game on Thursday, March 6 at 9 p.m. eastern time.