All good things must come to an end.
On Monday, when Saint Louis and Vanderbilt clashed in Nashville, both teams put their winning streaks on the line. The Billikens hit the road in search of their sixth-straight win while the Commodores looked to extend a three-game winning streak of their own.
Of course, one team had to leave Memorial Gymnasium with their respective streak coming to a close, and Saint Louis escaped this road contest with a 57-49 victory.
Jordair Jett pushed the Billikens to command early, jumping out to an 11-5 lead and looking like the home team. Vanderbilt looked asleep, their players all about a half step behind their visiting opponents. Saint Louis would have raced to an even larger lead had it not shot so uncharacteristically poor from outside. Overall, Saint Louis only shot 3-19 from outside compared to its 31.7 percent season clip entering the contest. The Billikens created a lot of open three-point looks for shooters throughout the entire contest against Vandy’s two-three zone.
Then, Vanderbilt started forcing turnovers and getting out into transition, and rattled off a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 12-11, with 8:10 left to play in the first half.
With the pace picking up and leaning toward Vanderbilt’s preferred speed, the contest turned into an exciting back-and-forth matchup for several minutes before the Commodores were able to take control and take a considerable lead into halftime. Kyle Fuller lead the way for the home team, grabbing several defensive rebounds, leading the break and distributing to his teammates. Fuller headed into the locker room with 5 assists and 5 rebounds at intermission.
But following the break, Jim Crews‘ Billikens showed why they’re a veteran team that has a great chance to again win the A-10 and head to the NCAA Tournament as a top seed.
Even with Jake Barnett missing all of his seven three-point attempts and Dwayne Evans shooting just 3-11 from the field, Saint Louis grinded out a win by jumping in passing lanes and playing tough interior team defense. Offensively, Jett did his part penetrating and keying Saint Louis’ unselfish attack. The point guard finished with an efficient 17 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals while five other players scored between 6 and 9 points as well.
Rod Odom’s layup on a backdoor pass from Luke Kornet gave Vanderbilt a 40-35 lead with 8:02 left to play. But from then on, the Commodores didn’t score a field goal until Kornet, a 6-10 freshman forward, hit his second three-pointer of the game with 15 seconds remaining and it was too little, too late.
When the competition grew tight and the game was on the line the veteran team played to its strengths while Vanderbilt was looking to discover its identity on the fly. The Commodores didn’t know whom to play through down the stretch while Saint Louis’ veterans lead the way to a solid road win.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday, as Saint Louis will welcome Yale to Chaifetz Arena while Vanderbilt will host a second-straight mid-major in Northeastern.
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