Bills Pull Away From NWBL, Win 75-56

The Saint Louis University women’s basketball rebounded from last week’s exhibition debacle to beat the National Women’s Basketball League Elite Team last Thursday.

The Bills won 75-56 in their final tuneup for the regular season.

NWBL got on the board first, but Mandy Lueking tied the score 30 seconds into the contest.

The seesaw battle continued, as there were eight lead changes in the first eight minutes and neither team led by more than four points in the half.

Bridget Beckmann scored to give the Bills a 19-17 lead with just under eight minutes left in the half. The Bills never trailed after that basket.

NWBL stayed close until the end of the half, when Christan Shelton scored with three seconds left to give the Bills a 30-27 lead at halftime.

The Bills came out strong in the second half with a 10-2 run. The run was paced by Lueking, who hit three baskets, including two three-pointers, and had two steals.

Coach Jill Pizzotti said, “The first three minutes (of the second half) would dictate the rest of the game. We couldn’t allow them to think it was still a game.”

The Bills continued to build on their lead. After two free throws from Shelton, the Bills lead 56-38 with eight minutes left in the game.

The Billikens’ tough defense and strong shooting continued throughout the rest of the game. Lueking scored the Bills’ final basket with one minute remaining.

Lueking drove in hard and made a good fake to open herself up for the layup, giving the Bills a 19-point lead.

Pizzotti said, “The effort was better, the intensity was better. We need to be tough on defense and on the boards to succeed.”

The Bills echoed their coach’s thoughts.

Lueking said, “We had great spurts. We let them back in, but took over the game.”

“Shelton came off the bench and played well. She battled,” Pizzotti said. “(Lakia) Jones was active in the post. She was one of the freshman post players to step up and help.”

Pizzotti is looking forward to the beginning of the season.

“This will be a challenging year. We have a young team,” Pizzotti said. “The upperclass players want to go to the postseason and take the next step. The C-USA schedule is the toughest it’s ever been.”

The Bills have their home-opener Friday at 7 p.m. against Chicago State at the Bauman-Eberhardt Athletic Center.

“Chicago State has a new coach with much experience. They have nine new players and one returning player,” Pizzotti said.

“They went to the offensive boards tough (in their only exhibition game against Lithuania). They had 30 offensive boards in that game.”

“It will be like our exhibition games. We have to go out and worry about ourselves,” Pizzotti said.

“We have to concentrate on defense and rebounds. I’m glad we’re playing at home. We have to go out and play hard for 40 minutes.”