Saint Louis Billikens center Austin Gillmann missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer to give the Bills their second Atlantic 10 conference victory. The ball went to Massachusetts’ Derrick Gordon who got a last second layup to give the Minutemen their first victory against the Billikens since 1995. The Minutemen followed their huge victory against Dayton with a 60-56 victory against Saint Louis.
UMass struggled from the outside only making four 3-pointers the entire game, but dominated in the interior scoring 30 points in the paint against the Billikens. They were able to get their fifth A-10 conference against a struggling Billikens team.
Saint Louis is struggling. They have lost 8 of their last 9 games and are on a 4 game losing streak. The rebuilding project for the Billikens has hit a major rough patch. The team’s leading scorer forward Milik Yarbrough is 8-30 from the field these past two games and are struggling to find consistency (expect for guard Mike Crawford) on the offensive end of the floor.
The game started as a back and forth affair. The teams traded the lead six times in the opening four minutes of the game. UMass forward Cady Lalanne was strong in the interior and Saint Louis could not find a response to stop him early on in this game. He gave the Minutemen an early 7-6 lead in the first half.
UMass however could not make shots from the outside. The Minutemen were 1-9 from 3-point range in the first half and are not a good 3-point shooting team. However, UMass’ poor outside shooting allowed the Billikens to stay in the game. The Billikens got great production from their 3-point shooting in the first half. Guard Mike Crawford and Austin Gillmann made some big 3-pointers in the first half for the Billikens. Saint Louis using those 3-pointers, reclaimed the lead 15-14, about midway through the first half.
However, UMass dominated the interior in this game. The Minutemen had 18 points in the paint in the first half. After SLU increased its lead up to 5 points, the Minutemen slashed into the lane with forward Maxie Esho and guard Jabarie Hinds to get some easy buckets or they dropped the ball off to Lalanne who was able to finish around the rim. UMass used this strategy to reclaim the lead and hold onto a 4 point lead going into halftime.
Early in the second half, Saint Louis went on a 7-0 run and reclaimed the lead on a Gillmann 3-pointer to go up 37-34. SLU used their outside again to get an early advantage, but UMass began to make some 3-pointers in the second half.
UMass went on a 10-0 run going back to their strength in the first half. The run was started on a 3-point play by Lalanne, but this run was different as they were able to get a 3-pointer from Hinds. That shot forced SLU to extend its defense and forced them not to protect the lane as well as they needed to against Lalanne. It appeared SLU was on one of its cold streaks that it could not shake, but they responded.
SLU got a huge 3-pointer from guard Austin McBroom and 3-point play from Crawford to cut the UMass lead to 3 points. UMass was able to stretch their lead out to 6 points slashing into the paint with Esho and guard Donte Clark. Yet, the Billikens were able to cut the lead down to 2 points after a missed 3-pointer by UMass’ Clark.
UMass’ Trey Davis hit a jumper to get the lead back up to 4 points with 1:16 left in the game, but SLU’s Mike Crawford responded with two free throws to cut the lead back to 2. After the Minutemen missed a jumper, SLU grabbed the ball and called timeout with 18 seconds left in the game to set up the final play.
Saint Louis will remain at home to play the Saint Joseph’s Hawks on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. UMass will travel to New York to play the Fordham Rams on Wednesday, Feb. 4th at 7 p.m. eastern time.