Defense was the name of the game and No. 19 Saint Louis showed why their defense is one of the best in the nation against the Richmond Spiders. They overwhelmed the Spiders on the defensive end limiting them to 31.7 percent shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers in their 77-57 victory.
The Spiders had to settle for a lot of contested shots as Richmond’s two top scorers (Cedrick Lindsay and Kendall Anthony) shot 10-31 from the field thanks to SLU's defense. The Billikens defense stopped the Spiders from gaining more momentum after the team got key conference victories against Massachusetts and Saint Joseph’s as they fall to 14-7 on the season (4-2, Atlantic 10).
"We feel really great about this win," said Saint Louis Head Coach Jim Crews. "They (Richmond) play a really unique system of play both offensively and defensively. I thought our guys were really aggressive on two fronts; defensively, I thought we really did a good job and were able to convert points off our defense in the first half in particular and in attacking gaps from an offensive standpoint."
From the tip, it was Saint Louis’ game and they dominated the entire way. Their defense was impressive from the outset, forcing Richmond to take contested and rushed shots all first half. Even when Richmond got a clean look, the shots would not fall for them.
Richmond took contested shot after shot and they became more frustrated with each shot that they missed. They continued to look for something to fall on the offensive end, but Saint Louis’ smothering defense was too much for them to get anything going on that end of the court. Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney looked like he was in utter disbelief as to what was happening to his offense and his team had no way to response.
The Billikens used Richmond's frustration and poor shooting to jump out to a 17-5 advantage in the first half. That advantage was thanks to efficient offensive play by the Billikens as they systemically found the gaps in the Spiders matchup zone allowing Dwayne Evans and Jordair Jett to get easy looks at the basket.
Jordair Jett was imposing his will against Richmond tonight. The best example of how he did this came at the 7:26 mark in the first half. After missing a layup, he attempted to go up for another shot, but missed that attempt. He then stole the ball from a Richmond player and went up against four Spiders defenders to make a bucket. That effort by Jett forced Richmond’s head coach to call a timeout for his team’s lackluster effort against the Billiken.
Saint Louis built a 21 point lead by halftime. It was perhaps their most impressive performance all year in a half. They shot the ball well, they played strong defense, and limited Richmond to 23.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
"We were really solid in the first half on defense," said Saint Louis Forward Dwayne Evans. "We did not have many turnovers. We really tried to shut down what they wanted to do on offense and put them in some interesting situations."
The second half was a near repeat of the first half. The Billikens continued to dominate on the defensive end and Richmond struggled to find any open looks and convert their shots. They simply could not handle the Billikens defense tonight.
"We depend on our defensive a lot; we look at it as a scoring option," said Saint Louis Guard Jordair Jett.
The Billikens will remain at home on Saturday, Feb. 1 to play the George Mason Patriots at 2:30 p.m. eastern time. The Spiders will take on Virginia Commonwealth University on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. eastern time.