Saint Louis hit the road for a two-game road trip, starting today at Rhode Island and then again Wednesday at George Mason, for two of their three remaining regular season contests. The Billikens began this road trip on Saturday in 5th place in the conference with a record of 9 and 6 but within just 24 hours they have advanced to 10 and 6 and tied for 4th with both Duquesne and St. Bonaventure. A final score of 72 to 62 spelled the third consecutive win for Coach Ford and #TeamBlue, and beating the 2nd place team in the conference by double-digits on their home court is not only a good indication of team maturity, chemistry, and talent, but is also a great benefit to our chances of making the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday in just two weeks. Though unlikely, finishing as high as 2nd in the Atlantic 10 is still a possibility for Saint Louis with two games left to play and just two games separating us and Richmond, over whom we hold the head to head tiebreaker.
Entering the game as 6-point underdogs may have paved the way for the 11 unanswered points that the Billikens scored to start the game. The Billikens were up by 7 points at halftime and as many as 16 in the second half, and at no point in the game did they trail Rhode Island. Despite enduring foul trouble throughout the entire game, SLU beat their opponents for 40 straight minutes, besting them in rebounding (44 to 26), assists (18 to 10), shooting percentage (53% to 37%), and, of course, scoring. In my previous article I highlighted three things that I believed were keys to this game and they were as follows:
1) limiting turnovers, 2) the Billikens’ shooting %, and 3) the matchup between Hasahn French and Cyril Langevine.
- SLU lost the turnover battle 17 to 11 and allowed URI to narrowly best their season average in steals, tallying 9 compared to their 8 per game average. Though these turnovers did not give URI the edge they needed, anytime they were within single digits was as a result of points off turnovers and coinciding momentum swings.
- Saint Louis shot 52.5% from the field, making today the fifth consecutive game that SLU has shot made more than half of their field goal attempts. Credit to the Billiken defense for allowing Rhode Island to make only 22 of 58 FGAs, a 37% success rate for the day.
- French and Langevine had similar stat lines – Hasahn with 12 points / 14 rebounds and Cyril with 12 points and 11 rebounds – however French reached those numbers in 12 fewer minutes of playing time (28 minutes to Cyril’s 40). Langevine may have successfully reached his season averages but perspective is important – it took him 10 more minutes than usual to do so.
Jimmy Bell Jr. scored a career-high 12 points on 83% shooting, while recording 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. His performance today was indicative of an improving player with potential much greater than statistics may show, and he was arguably the most valuable Billiken on the court today also doing an outstanding job of defending against Rhode Island’s powerful front court.
Five different players – Goodwin (17), Perkins (17), French (12), Bell (12), and Hargrove Jr. (11) – had double-digit scoring performances today, and both Goodwin and French had double-digit rebounds to match. Goodwin has now had 4 consecutive double-doubles and 14 total for the season, and with an average of 10.5 rebounds per game has a chance alongside Hasahn French (10.2 RPG) to become the only Billikens since Anthony Bonner in the 1989-90 season to average over 10 rebounds per game.
Terrence Hargrove Jr scored in double figures for the third consecutive game with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal and assist. His emergence as a consistent role player as of late adds an invaluable layer of depth to this team. Javonte Perkins scored in double digits for the fifth consecutive game with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Perkins is currently averaging 17.9 PPG in conference play and is on pace to beat the SLU record held Tommie Liddell. The bench scoring provided by these two and Tay Weaver has been arguably the largest factor to the team’s recent success. With 9 assists on the day, Yuri Collins is now just three shy of 3rd place on the single-season leaderboard for Saint Louis University and Goodwin’s 2 steals places him just 2 shy of 2nd place for career steals. Look for these two to surpass both of those milestones in the two remaining regular season games.
Yuri Collins + Hasahn French = #JAMTIME https://t.co/DWQoSmGvpO
The race for the 4th seed in the conference tournament is a tight one and leaves no margin for error; Duquesne plays VCU on Tuesday and St. Bonaventure plays Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday and each game will affect the current three-way tie for 4th place. Saint Louis travels to George Mason on Wednesday for a 6PM tip-off. George Mason is in 12th place in the Atlantic 10 and should be a much easier opponent for the Billikens, however no road game is easy and should ever be overlooked. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.