Dwayne Evans finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season to help No. 18 Saint Louis University hang on for a 66-58 victory over George Washington Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C. SLU improved to 23-5 (12-2) on the season and maintained its one-game lead over VCU in the Atlantic 10 standings.
“I’m really proud of our guys. There was not too much rhythm to the game,” interim coach Jim Crews said during his postgame interview with Bob Ramsey and Earl Austin Jr. on 101 ESPN. “They’re very, very physical in everything they do. They crush the offensive boards, they’re physical screeners, they’re physical drivers, they’re physical into you defensively and things just didn’t go our way.”
Foul trouble limited Kwamain Mitchell’s playing time in the first half, but the senior guard came on strong in the second half, registering 15 of his 18 points in the game’s final 20 minutes. He hit six of 12 shots from the field and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
“I can’t salute Kwam enough,” Crews said of his senior captain. “He’s been team, team, team. He’s been quietly incredible, because everyone expects this or that, but he has been team-first, he has served the team and he made some big, big plays for us to start the (second) half and then late in the game, taking the ball to the bucket. That was outstanding.”
Jordair Jett (11) also finished in double figures for SLU who, as a team, shot 41 percent from the field and was five for 14 from behind the arc.
Senior Cody Ellis became the 27th member of the school’s 1,000-point club with a 3-pointer early in the first half. He finished with seven points, five boards, an assist and a steal.
“I think this was our best win of the year, I really do,” Crews said. “Our guys just tried to do the next right thing… Their mentality was awesome.”
Saint Louis was up eight early in the second half, but the Colonials clamped down using an aggressive 1-3-1 zone defense to force turnovers on 7 of the next 9 possessions. While the visitors struggled to even register a shot, the home squad went to work, using a 16-7 run to seize a 44-43 lead with 12:16 left.
Lasan Kromah pushed the score to 48-45 with a layup five minutes later, but the Billikens responded with a 12-2 run to grab a 7-point lead heading into the game’s final media timeout.
“They’re long and they’re athletic,” Crews said. “We didn’t quite move the way we wanted to initially, but once we settled in—and it took a little while, we had a few turnovers—I thought we did a good job.”
Evans highlighted the Billiken scoring binge—registering eight points, including the go-ahead bucket with 6:10 left. The junior forward finished with 22 points on seven of 13 shooting with 12 boards, four steals and a block.
GW attempted to stage a late comeback, making it a two-possession game with two minutes left, but Evans stamped out its 6-3 mini-run with a layup before Jett put an exclamation point on the victory with an emphatic block that sent the ball sailing into the third row of seats with under a minute left.
Saint Louis finished 21 of 24 from the free throw line, while George Washington struggled, hitting just eight of 15 shots from the charity stripe.
After a brief return trip to St. Louis, SLU will venture out to Cincinnati for a showdown with Xavier Wednesday night at Cintas Center. The Musketeers dropped to 16-12 (8-6) on the season Saturday afternoon following a 77-72 loss at home to Massachusetts.
“We’re going to worry about [Xavier] after midnight tonight,” SLU’s interim coach said. “We’re going to worry about that tomorrow.”
Tip-off between SLU and Xavier is set for 8 p.m.