SLU Scraps Way To Victory Over SIU

There is one word to describe Saint Louis University’s 76-64 victory over the Southern Illinois Saluki’s this past Tuesday: ugly. In a game marred by 51 personal fouls and 42 turnovers, the Billikens prevailed to push their win streak to two, leaving their overall record a solid 9-6 and 1-2 in C-USA.

The game started with senior guard Justin Love drilling a wide open three. SIU answered back with five straight points.

After battling back and forth for the next few possessions, senior guard Troy Robertson hit back to back treys, with 12 minutes to go, to put the Billikens up by six points and ahead for good.

The Bills closed out the first half with a 10-6 run, taking a 36-24 lead into the locker room.

The second half opened to a much faster pace than the first. Love came out with a fire under him. In the first four minutes of the second half, Love had seven points, including a 360-degree crowd-pleasing throw down. He also completed a no-look pass that led to a Maurice Jeffers dunk.

After a series of missed shots, Matt Baniak hit a layup with a bounce pass from Marque Perry.

SIU answered back with a layup and then a long three. The Saluki’s began to build momentum, but Robertson answered back with five points, knocking the wind out of the SIU sails.

SIU got its wind back, as they rattled off nine points to SLU’s three.

Love continued his hot shooting as he nailed a three from the wing, boosting the SLU lead back to 13.

From then on the game was messy. The next four minutes yielded one field goal, six fouls, and 12 free throw attempts.

With 3:40 left on the clock, the Billikens led 66-54. The last 3:40 seemed like the previous four, with 10 SLU free throw attempts and only two field goals.

SIU made a run as the clock was running low. The Saluki’s made the most of two late SLU turnovers, converting them into layups.

As the clock expired the Bills had their ninth victory.

The Bills were led by the hot-shooting Love who finished with 23 points, five offensive and 11 total rebounds, all being team highs.

“I liked my defensive effort tonight,” Love said. “We played good[defense] in spurts, but it has to be constant to be a really good team.”

“We wouldn’t be very far along without Justin Love,” head coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He hits big shots.”

Junior forward Justin Tatum looked good as he cleaned the glass with multiple putbacks and pulled down nine rebounds. His defensive effort was solid with two steals and a block.

Junior center Chris Heinrich scored eight points and snatched nine rebounds but shot 33% from the field.

“Chris Heinrich and Justin Tatum played great on the boards,” Romar said. “Tatum and Baniak did a sensational job on defense.”

Baniak led the team with three blocks and added eight points and three rebounds.

Roberston looked sharp, shooting a perfect three of three from behind the arc and four of four from the field. He finished with 13 points and two boards.

“I was fortunate to have two open looks,” said Robertson. “When you get your feet set and your shoulders square, it makes it a lot easier.”

When it all came down to it, Romar was quite content with his team’s defensive effort.

“The way SIU plays, it can get a little ugly,” Romar said. “We did a good job shutting down their big time players and above all, we got a victory.”

The Billikens are going to need their tight defense heading into Saturday’s contest with the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

The 49ers are led by their sniper-accurate guards, Jobey Thomas and Diego Guevara.

UNC-Charlotte (7-7 overall 0-2 in Conference USA) has yet to win a conference game, but SLU has never won on the 49er’s home court.