The Saint Louis Billikens fought the entire game with the La Salle Explorers playing in front SLU's All-Century Team. Despite 19 turnovers and some questionable decisions late in the game, the Billikens showed great energy and resolve to force the game into overtime. SLU used the momentum to their advantage as they were able to come away with the 68-64 victory in overtime.
Freshman Guard Davell Roby was huge in the overtime period scoring 6 of his 16 points and giving the Billikens an early 5 point advantage in overtime. However, La Salle came back to cut the Bills lead to 2 points twice in the overtime period and had an opportunity to get the lead. But, Billikens Guard Mike Crawford sealed the game with four free throws to give the Billikens their third Atlantic 10 conference victory.
The Explorers were exhausted and struggled to get going in the overtime period. Center Steve Zack had played 41 minutes during this game and Guard Jordan Price played 44 minutes in the game. Price missed two key free throws in the overtime period, but also missed a 3-pointer to reclaim the lead. Price’s shot got wedged between the rim and the backboard. The possession went back to Saint Louis who closed out the game.
After the Billikens briefly held the lead, the La Salle Explorers Guard Jordan Price took control of the game. Price slashed into the lane, forcing the action with his dribble-drive ability. The Billikens defense struggled to contain him as he scored 8 of his 11 first half points in the paint. Price’s scoring and driving ability let La Salle to go on a 12-4 run and allowed the Explorers to build a double-digit lead, 18-8, with 10:33 left in the first half.
Saint Louis struggled as they went on a five minute scoring drought after Forward Milik Yarbrough picked up his second foul. Yarbrough is an offensive catalyst for the Billikens and his departure was a tough blow for the Bills offense. There was not a lot of movement or players would crowd around the same area. However, the Billikens had some luck on their side as the Explorers went on a scoring drought after going up 11 points, 20-9, with 9:59 left in the first half.
A 7-2 run by Saint Louis cut the La Salle lead down to 5 points. The Billikens used the Explorers scoring drought to their advantage by aggressively attacking the glass with SLU Guard Achraf Yacoubou. Yacoubou forced the action allowing the Bills to stay in the game as Yarbrough sat on the bench. He kept the Billikens in the game in the first half with his aggressiveness.
The Explorers only scored 5 points after the 9:59 mark in the first half. However, Saint Louis had 11 turnovers in the first half and could not build on their 7-2 run. The Bills had 4 of those turnovers after the under 4 media timeout in the first half. The turnovers were a momentum killer for the Bills, but due to La Salle’s scoring woes, Saint Louis was only down 6 points, 25-19, at halftime.
SLU got two buckets in the paint by Forward Brett Jolly and Yarbrough to cut the La Salle lead to 2 points. This was the first of numerous instances where the Bills would be within one possession to tie or take the lead, but could not capitalize on those opportunities due to turnovers or missed shots. The Explorers called timeout, and the call undercut SLU’s momentum. La Salle got the ball back into the paint by going to Center Steve Zack and Forward Jerrell Wright who gave the Explorers a quick 6-0 spurt to increase their lead back to 8 points.
The Billikens however showed great resolve and continued to pick away at the Explorers lead any time they would increase it. The Billikens stayed close with the Explorers within two or three possessions for the majority of the second half. Saint Louis made their final move with 5:16 left in the second half.
Guard Marcus Bartley knocked down a 3-pointer to get the La Salle lead down to 1 point with 5:16 left in the second half. The Explorers responded with two tough jumpers by Zack and Price to increase the lead back up to 5 points. However, the Billikens responded with a 3-pointer by Davell Roby. Roby’s 3-pointer was a big momentum swing to the Billikens as the Explorers called a timeout.
After La Salle went up 5 points on free throws, SLU Guard Mike Crawford drove along the baseline to get a traditional 3-point play. His play cut the La Salle lead down to 2 points. Steve Zack had the ball stolen away from him and set up SLU to tie the game once again, but this time they tied the game. Yacoubou missed a layup on the breakaway, but Davell Roby gathered the offensive board and tied the game at 56 with 1:07 left in the game.
La Salle’s Jordan Price had the ball taken away by SLU’s Milik Yarbrough. The Billikens did not call a timeout and played on. The Bills found Yacoubou in the corner, he drove the ball along the baseline, hit a tough layup, and got fouled by La Salle's Amar Stukes to give the Bills their first lead in the second half, 58-56, with 38 seconds left in the second half. However, on the other end, Yacoubou fouled Price attempting to undercut a screen going for a steal. Price made both free throws to tie the game at 58. Yacoubou's shot attempt to win the game in regulation was deflected and the game went into overtime.
Saint Louis carried their energy and momentum into the overtime for the victory. Their fight and resolve was a major reason they were able to stay in the game. The freshmen have been in many of these situations this year, but were able to claim the victory in this game. Davell Roby and Mike Crawford stepped up in a huge way today. The biggest questions is whether the Billikens can use this victory to get some momentum before the Atlantic 10 conference tournament.
Saint Louis will go on the road to take on the Duquesne Dukes on Wednesday, Feb. 25th at 7 p.m. eastern time. The La Salle Explorers will remain on the road to take on the Fordham Rams on Wednesday Feb. 25th at 7 p.m. eastern time.