(Photo Credit: Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports)
The Saint Louis University Billikens were coming off an emotional heart breaker against VCU losing 63-61. SLU was 9-10 and 1-5 in conference entering play against George Mason tonight. The keys for the Billikens tonight was keeping the taller Patriots especially center Shevon Thompson off of the glass and shoot at least 40% from the behind the 3 point line.
Early on, George Mason got off to a great start scoring an easy layup from their big center, Jalen Jenkins. The Billikens were quick to respond off a turn around hook shot from freshman sensation Milik Yarbrough.
The Billikens had a game plan of playing inside and out focusing on getting the ball to John Manning and Milik Yarbrough. They both combined for 6 points, which gave the Billikens a 6-4 lead. In the early stages of the game, the Billikens were only shooting 37.5%.
After the first TV timeout, the Billikens committed a turnover when they got a 10 second violation for not getting the ball across half court. George Mason took the opportunity and got a layup to tie the game at 6. Then, Billikens move the ball around the perimeter and found sophomore Mike Crawford who drained a three giving the Billikens a three-point lead. At the 11:43, the Billikens shined on defense and forced George Mason to commit four turnovers.
After the TV timeout, the Billikens forced the Patriots into a shot-clock violation, which was fifth turnover for the Patriots. The teams traded a couple of empty possessions. The Billikens broke the press from the Patriots and find freshman Brett Jolly who got fouled and made both free throws, which grew the Billiken lead to 11-6. The Patriots Marquise Moore hit a jumper to cut the lead to 11-8 with 9 minutes left in the first half. Brett Jolly committed a foul and Shevon Thompson hit both free throws and cut the lead to 11-10.
On the next Patriot possession, sophomore Austin McBroom got a turnover and find junior Ash Yacoubou with an easy dunk on the other end. The Billikens commit a steal and freshman Davell Roby beats the coverage and got a layup to grow the lead 15-10 with 7:52 left in the half.
After TV timeout, the Patriots hit the two free throws and cut the lead to 15-12. After an empty offensive Billiken possession, the Billikens got a turnover and found Yarbrough under the basket for an easy two to grow the lead to 17-12. The Patriots responded right away with a three, which cut the lead to 17-15. On an outbound play, the Patriots found Corey Edwards with an easy layup and foul. He hit the free throw and gave the Patriots the lead 18-17. After the teams traded empty possessions, Yarbrough drove to the basket and gave the Billikens the lead 19-18. The Patriots responded back with a drive to basketball from big man Shevon Thompson who is able to convert on the three-point play and gave the Patriots the lead 21-19.
Billikens broke the press again and find Mike Crawford with an easy layup to tie the game at 21-21. The Patriots hit one of two of free throws to give the Patriots the lead 22-21. The Billikens gave the ball back to the Patriots, and the Patriots Marquise Moore hit a jumper to grow the Patriots lead 24-21.
After the TV timeout, the Patriots hit both free throws and grow the lead 25-21. Freshman Miles Reynolds stepped on the outbound on his way to the basket. Brett Jolly fouled Shevon Thompson on an offensive rebound, and he hit one of two, which grew the lead to 27-21. The Billikens got a very much-needed turnover, and Brett Jolly hit both free throws to cut the lead to 27-23. The Billikens committed a turnover and allowed the Patriots to get an easy layup to grow the lead to 29-23. Miles Reynolds hit a free throw to cut the lead to 29-24.
At the half, the Billikens trailed the Patriot 29-24. The Billikens only shot 39.1% from the field and were 1-4 (25%) from behind the three point line. The Billikens outrebounded the Patriots, 13-12. The Billikens also played tough defense by forcing the Patriots to turn the ball over 10 times; however, the Billikens also felt the pressure as they turned the ball over 10 times as well.
After the half, the Billikens hit a three and cut the lead to 29-27. John Manning hit a hook shot and cut the lead to 31-29. The Patriots missed an easy layup but Shevon Thompson grabbed the board and completed the three-point play to grow the lead to 34-29. The Patriots got a free rebounder and put it up in to grow the lead to 36-29. The Billikens commit a turnover, and the Patriots used their size to grow the lead to 38-29. After Billikens empty offensive possession, the Patriots hit a three to grow the lead to 41-29. Patriots were on a 12-2 run to start the second half.
After the TV timeout, the teams traded empty possessions. Mike Crawford pushed the ball down the court and knocked down a three to cut the lead to 41-32. The Patriots got another tip in and grew the lead to 43-32. Milik Yarbrough pushed the ball down the court and got an easy reverse layup to grow the lead to 43-34. The Billiken pulled down a Patriot miss, and Davell Roby got fouled going to the basket and hit one of two free throws, which cut the lead to 43-35. The Billikens forced the Patriots to travel and coughed up the basketball leading to a George Mason break out.
After the TV timeout, the Patriot’s Isaiah Jackson hit both free throws and extended the lead to 45-35. The Billikens worked the ball around the key and Austin McBroom missed a wide-open three and was unable to corral the rebound. After a Patriots layup, the Billikens couldn’t find the basket, which leads to an open layup for the Patriots to grow the lead 49-35. Roby hit both free throws to cut the lead to 49-37. After a George Mason turnover, Milik Yarbrough couldn’t hit a wide-open layup, and George Mason drove the ball up the court drew a foul. George Mason called a timeout.
After the timeout, the Billiken forced a turnover, and Mike Crawford drove baseline to draw a foul going up for a layup. Crawford hit both free throws to cut the lead to 49-39. On the next Billiken possession, Davell Roby drove to the basket and drew a foul. He hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to 49-40. Crawford got a steal and was able to dunk it home to cut the lead to 49-42. Milik Yarbrough hit both free throws to cut the lead to 49-44. George Mason hit a turnaround hook shot to grow the lead to 51-44. The Patriots hit a tear drop shot to grow the lead to 53-44. Davell Roby hit a layup to cut the lead to 53-46. The Billikens took a timeout with 4:45 left.
After the Billikens timeout, George Mason missed another jump shot, but they rebounded the basketball and were able to draw a foul against Austin McBroom. The Patriots hit both free throws to grow their lead to 55-46. Mike Crawford was unable to hit a three. George Mason hit both one of two throws to grow their lead to 56-46. Austin McBroom was able to hit a three pointer and cut the lead to 56-49. The Patriots hit both free throws to grow their lead by 9. McBroom drove the lane and hit the layup to cut the lead by 7.
With 2:18 left in the game, the Billikens committed another foul on a reach to get a steal. Marquise Moore hit one of two from the line to grow the lead to 59-51. Crawford committed a clock-stopping foul, and Marquise Moore hit both free throws to grow the lead to 61-51. Mike Crawford missed a three-point opportunity, but gathered the rebound and got to the foul line. Crawford hit both free throws to cut the lead to 61-53. The Patriots committed a turnover, and the Billikens get another possession down by 8. The Billikens were unable to convert on this opportunity and sent Shevon Thompson to the free throw line. Thompson hit both free throws and grew the lead to 63-53.
With 34.8 left in the game, Yacoubou hit one of two from the line, which cut the lead to 63-54. Corey Edwards hit one of two to grow the lead by 10. Yarbrough converts on a layup to cut the lead to 64-56. George Mason hit both free throws to grow the lead to 66-56. Yarbrough hit another layup to cut the lead to 66-58. George Mason hit both free throws to grow the lead 68-58. Roby hit another layup to cut the lead to 68-60. The Billikens would fall to the score of 68-60.
The Billikens shot 40.4% from the field. If you remember my keys to the game from the top of this recap, the Billikens failed to keep Shevon Thompson off the glass by allowing him to get a double-double. He finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds. The other key to the game was how the Billikens needed to shoot at least 40% from the three-point line. The Billikens finished the game shooting 4-16 or 25% from behind the arc. There were many coachable moments that can come from this game such as taking care of the basketball as the Billikens committed 14 turnovers. Hopefully, head coach Jim Crews will be able to help coach and grow this young “Billikids” squad. He better do it quickly as the Billikens play UMass this Saturday at 3 P.M. at Chaifetz Arena.