Billikens Fall To UNCC; Face Crucial Road Test At DePaul

The Saint Louis University Billikens don’t necessarily face a “must-win” situation in Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. contest at No. 23-ranked DePaul. But a win could go a long way in determining the future of the Bills’ season.

With a win on the road-where the Bills have a combined 3-15 over the past two years-SLU can set themselves up for a winning streak. After this contest, four of the next five games are at the friendly confines of the Kiel Center-where SLU is 19-4 over the past two years.

“.We’ve got to win this one at DePaul,” said coach Lorenzo Romar. “If we do that we’re back on the right track.”

With SLU’s record at 9-7 overall, and 1-3 in Conference USA, a string of wins could catapult the squad into contention in C-USA and a possible postseason berth.

But the Billikens have to topple the Blue Demons (12-4, 3-1) first. And that could be quite a task. National player of the year candidate Quentin Richardson leads the DePaul attack. He averages close to a double-double-19.4 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game.

Richardson, a sophomore, had a couple of field days against the Bills last year.

In the first game between the teams last season, Richardson poured in 23 points and snagged 16 rebounds, guiding DePaul to 76-67 win. In the second battle, he notched 26 points and 12 boards in a 64-55 victory.

Fellow sophomore Bobby Simmons can wreak havoc as well. He averages 13.5 ppg and 8.6 rpg. In the two games last season, he averaged 15 ppg. Both players contribute to DePaul’s plus-11 rebounding advantage per game over opponents.

“They’re the best rebounding team in the league,” Romar said. “Limiting the offensive rebounds, that’s going to be the key to the game.

“The two most important things to beat DePaul is getting back in transition and rebounding.”

Getting back on defense was a problem in SLU’s 72-51 loss to UNC-Charlotte on Saturday night in Charlotte. After SLU jumped out to a 10-3 lead, the 49ers responded with a 15-2 run in which they caught the Bills flat-footed in transition. UNCC never looked back after that. The Bills were also beaten on the boards, where UNCC had multiple offensive rebounds and putbacks.

The Billikens shot 31 percent from the field, as the 49ers handed SLU its worst loss of the year. The setback leaves the Bills in last place in the American Division.

“Overall it was a disappointing game,” said Romar. “Our inability to rebound and get back in transition hurt us. Offensively, we didn’t do a good job of making shots.”

After the DePaul game, SLU returns home to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles at the Kiel Center on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

Marquette held SLU to 25 percent field goal shooting in the Golden Eagles 56-38 victory. Marquette is 10-5 and 3-1 in C-USA.