The Saint Louis University Billikens struggled in the final four minutes of the second half to let their lead and the game slip away for their first loss of the season. The Texas A&M Corpus Christi had a 10-0 run during the final four minutes of the game as they claimed a huge road victory, 62-56.
"I thought we turned the ball over in the second half," said SLU head coach Jim Crews. "We were pretty ball strong in the first half, but in the second half we turned the ball over way too many times, missed things around the rim, we were not strong around the rim... we did not complete some plays that way. And they (Texas A&M CC) did a good job of executing."
Many will say that the youth of the Billikens is what caused them to lose this game, however, credit must be given to the Islanders as they stay in this game the entire way. Still, the Billikens made key mistakes going 11-21 from the foul line and missing at least 10 easy layups.
TAMCC guards John Jordan and Brandon Pye were key in allowing the Islanders to stay in the game. Jordan lead the way with 13 points for the Islanders and Pye had 10 points including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:36 left in the second half. The Islanders also had a major contribution from freshman Ehab Amin who scored 9 points off the bench with some key 3-pointers as the Billikens attempted to built some momentum in the second half.
The Billikens struggled in the beginning of the first half, similar to their last game against the Indiana State Sycamores. SLU opened the first eight minutes of the game 2-9 from the field as the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders hit some 3-pointers and got some easy buckets to have a 14-5 lead at the second media timeout. The young Billiken team is showing some growing pains as they struggle out of the gate during these games.
SLU’s Tanner Lancona hit two jumpers to get the Bills on track and begin to climb their way back into the game. The Bills drove to the bucket and established their interior game to make some buckets. SLU guards Miles Reynolds and Achraf Yacoubou got to the foul line to cut into the Islanders early nine point lead.
An 11-2 run allowed the Bills to claim their first lead of the ball game with forward Brett Jolly's layup. The Islanders quickly tied the game at 24 until Yacoubou responded with his first 3-pointer as a Billiken to give the Bills a 27-24 lead going into halftime.
A quick second half start is what the Billikens were looking for after a slow second half start their last game, they quickly built their halftime lead to 9 points thanks to SLU guard Davell Roby's 3-pointer. However, the momentum of the game would shift to the Islanders on one huge dunk.
After SLU got their lead up to nine points, John Jordan drove to the bucket for a huge dunk. SLU players intentionally stepped out the way not to get posterized by Jordan. SLU still had a seven point lead at this point, but it became clear the this play rattled the young Bills team and gave the veteran Islanders confidence for the rest of the half.
Another factor that allowed the Islanders to get back into the game was freshman Ehab Amin who key two key 3-pointers as SLU tried to increase their lead after Jordan’s dunk. Amin hit a key bucket with 7:19 left in the game to tie the game at 46 and then hit a 3-pointer to reclaim the 49-48 lead for the Islanders.
SLU responded with some key buckets by Yacoubou and guard Austin McBroom to claim a 52-49 lead at the final media timeout. However, Saint Louis only scored four more points in the game and that ultimately caused them to lose this game.
The Islanders started their 10-0 run on a Rashawn Thomas layup. They fouled the Billkens on the next possession. Yacoubou missed both free throws and then SLU forward Reggie Agbeko missed a one-and-one opportunity. After the miss by Agbeko, Pye hit the go-ahead 3-pointer and the Islanders never looked back.
SLU missed their shots down the stretch and the Islanders sealed the victory with free throws. Experience was a key factor in the Islanders victory as they were able to maintain their poise down the stretch while Saint Louis was not.
Saint Louis will have a quick turnaround as they play North Carolina A&T at home on Tuesday while Texas A&M CC will travel to play Bradley University on Tuesday.