Saint Louis traveled to Fairfax, Virginia for the second of two road games and a chance to extend their winning streak to four games amidst a tight battle for conference seeding with just one week left until the start of the Atlantic 10 tournament. The George Mason Patriots were 12th in the Atlantic 10 entering tonight’s game and had lost four of their last five, which may have eased the minds of Billiken fans in anticipation of this game, but after a near double-digit run to start the first half Saint Louis found themselves trailing at halftime. Despite multiple deficits in the second half the Billikens once held a 16-point lead, which was once cut down to just four, but held on for a final score of 69 to 57. The victory improved SLU’s record to 11-6 in conference play and 22-8 overall.
The Billikens shot 51% from the field, the sixth straight game that they have made over half of all attempted field goals. Javonte Perkins scored a game-high 25 points, increasing his season average to 15 points per game and 22 over the last six. Javonte’s emergence as a high-efficiency and high-capacity scorer is unarguably the biggest factor to SLU’s recent success. Jordan Goodwin had a game-high eight rebounds yet fell two rebounds shy of his sixth consecutive double-double. Goodwin contributed the game’s second-high 13 points and with his 3 steals he improved to second on Saint Louis’ all-time steals list. Hasahn French had five blocks on the night which increased his season total to 74 and surpassed Willie Reed for 1st place on SLU’s single season blocks list. Hasahn reached 1st in career blocks earlier this season.
In my last article previewing the contest against George Mason I highlighted three interesting points or statistics that stood out to me as necessary areas of focus in Coach Ford’s game plan. They were as follows:
- The Patriots average only .7 PPG fewer than their opponents, 67.2 to 67.9. Over the course of the season that amounts to a mere 19-point deficit between George Mason’s points for versus their points against, so their underwhelming record does not tell the full story of their potential and the threat they pose.
- George Mason is the best rebounding team Saint Louis has played since Dayton on February 8th. In rebounds per game and rebounds allowed per game the Patriots rank third and fifth, respectively, whereas the last five opponents SLU has faced rank between 9th and 12th.
- George Mason has three players averaging double-digit scoring figures, and another two less than 1 PPG below double digits. This makes them a diverse offensive team and pressures every player on defense, preventing double-team options.
Maybe Coach Ford and his staff read my scouting report, because here are how those three things played out Wednesday:
- Saint Louis exceeded George Mason’s average OPPG by almost 2 points and held GM more than 10 points below their average PPG – over 17 times their average scoring deficit. This is a result of nearly flawless second half Billiken defense which forced 11 turnovers and held the Patriots to only 37% shooting from the field.
- The Billikens exceeded GM’s average ORPG, grabbing 36 or two greater than the average. SLU also held GM to just 31 rebounds on the night, 6 fewer than their average. Another testament to the Billiken defense.
- George Mason had three players average double-digit scoring figures and another two average nine points per game. Those players, in order of highest to lowest PPG, scored: 9, 13, 6, 7, and 0 (DNP). The Billikens allowed only one GM player to reach or exceed their average scoring numbers.
Saint Louis has shown significant improvement game over game throughout the course of the season and is now in position to finish as high as third in the conference before heading to the A10 Tournament – however a finish as low as 6th is also still in the cards. Winning four out of the last five contests has kept the Billikens in a 3-way tie with Duquesne and St. Bonaventure for 4th place in the conference and a double-bye in next week’s tournament. Duquesne hosts Richmond, the current 2nd place team in the league, tonight at 6pm. Duquesne are one-point underdogs in the contest but if they win they are guaranteed to finish at least one place above the Billikens, regardless of the result of SLU’s next game.
The Billikens host St. Bonaventure at Chaifetz for their final regular season game this weekend. The game has great implications for both Atlantic 10 tournament seeding and NCAA Tournament chances, so a large and involved crowd is essential to the team’s success. Reminder that St. Bonaventure is one of two teams tied in the standings with Saint Louis, so the winner of this game will create a full game separation between themselves and the loser. Here are the possible scenarios for final A10 seeding:
This quote tweet is incorrect. I missed a scenario. In a 3-way tie, DUQ has the highest winning %, then URI then SLU.
The rest of the season is very uncertain but one thing for sure is that it will be interesting. Much is left to happen before anything is determined but this season has already exceeded any reasonable expectations for such a young and inexperienced team. Tune in and continue cheering on #TeamBlue this Saturday at 7pm.