(Courtesy: Saint Louis Athletics)
Micah Mason scored a career-high 22 points, and Duquesne took command with an 18-2 second-half run in a 71-64 upset of Saint Louis Thursday night at Chaifetz Arena.
Saint Louis (25-3, 12-1 Atlantic 10), ranked No. 8 in theUSA Today coaches’ poll and No. 10 by the Associated Press, was denied a 20th consecutive victory that would have clinched a tie for the A-10 regular-season crown. Duquesne (12-15, 4-10), which lost to SLU 76-72 in Pittsburgh Jan. 22, won for just the second time in eight games.
Mike McCall Jr. led the Billikens with 18 points, just one off his career high. McCall Jr. was 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the foul line, and he added three assists.
Jordair Jett had 13 points (6-of-9 FG) to go with three assists and a game-high-tying three steals. Rob Loe tossed in 12 points, and Dwayne Evans tallied 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.
Grandy Glaze collected seven rebounds for SLU, which edged Duquesne 38-37 on the boards.
Mason, who leads the nation in 3-point percentage (.566), was 4-of 5 from beyond the arc and 6-of-7 from the line. He added three assists and three steals.
Jerry Jones scored 19 points (8-of-10 FG, 3-of-4 3-pointers), and Ovie Soko netted 12. Dominique McKoy and Derrick Colter had a team-high seven rebounds and a game-high five assists, respectively.
Duquesne shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) in the second half and finished the game at 43.6 percent. Saint Louis managed just 40.4 percent overall and 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from 3-point distance.
“Tonight we didn’t play well enough,” head coach Jim Crews said. “They’re all tough games. We had no license that we’re going to win. One team is going to win, one team is going to lose. Whoever plays the best, that’s all it is. Duquesne played better.
“Hopefully our guys are confident they’re going to keep coming back,” Crews said. “I didn’t think they quit, and that’s what we want. Hopefully they’ll continue with that mindset. These guys have been very resilient, and that’s a great credit to them.”
The Billikens led by four at halftime and were up 33-27 following two Evans layups on consecutive possessions.
After Duquesne narrowed the SLU advantage to 36-35, the Billikens used a Jett drive, a John Manning dunk and another Jett drive to take their largest lead, 42-35, with 13:44 remaining.
The Dukes began their 18-2 outburst in an unusual way, with Mason connecting on a long, desperation 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock. Jones followed with a trey and a layup to put Duquesne ahead 43-42.
Evans responded right away with a layup, but a jumper by McKoy gave Duquesne the lead for good. The Dukes finished the flurry with McKoy’s layup, a Soko free throw, a Jones 3-pointer and a Jones fast-break layup, and it was 53-44 at the 7:41 mark.
The Billikens got their offense going again with a McCall Jr. triple, Loe’s three-point play and two McCall Jr. free throws. However, Duquesne answered each time – extending its streak of scoring possessions to 10 – and the Dukes led 59-52 with 5:06 to play.
A free throw by Loe with just under a minute left narrowed the gap to 61-57, but that was as close as Saint Louis would get.
Cold shooting by both teams marred the first half. Saint Louis was just 10-of-28 overall (.357) and 1-of-7 from 3-point range, while Duquesne shot 9-of-28 (.321).
An 8-0 run, aided by a four-point possession, allowed Duquesne to turn an 8-5 deficit into a 13-8 lead. McCall Jr. put the finishing touches on an 8-3 Saint Louis spurt with two free throws and a driving layup, and the game was knotted at 16 with 9:09 left.
The Dukes matched their largest first-half lead by scoring the next five points, but the Billikens finished the half on a 13-4 run. Loe sank two free throws and nailed a jumper from the right wing, and Jett turned an offensive rebound into a layup to put SLU back on top, 22-21.
After Duquesne briefly regained the lead, Evans knocked down two free throws to put Saint Louis in front for good. Austin McBroom drove for a layup, and Jake Barnett buried SLU’s only first-half 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to give the Bills a 29-25 advantage at the break.
The Billikens are back in action Saturday, March 1, at VCU. Tip time is 5 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised on ESPN2.