Women Struggle Through Christmas Break

The Saint Louis University women’s basketball team went into Christmas break with high hopes. The Bills were cruising at 5-0 and off to their best start since the 1980-81 season. The following nine games saw the Billikens go 3-6. So much for a Merry Christmas.

The Bills struggled offensively in the physical game against the University of Missouri Tigers, and shot 31 percent from the field in the game. Strong defense and rebounding kept the game close, but the Bills lost, 78-65. Bridget Beckmann was a bright spot for the Bills. Beckmann led in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and 13 boards.

Coach Jill Pizzotti said, “We didn’t shoot well. Much of that is a credit to Missouri’s defense. They have a very good team with some good players. (Amanda) Lassiter did great things for them.”

The Bills then went on a three-game road trip, starting in Minnesota. SLU’s shooting struggles continued, as they shot 33 percent in the game and trailed 41-22 at the half. The Bills eventually lost 68-42, but SLU did the little things well.

The Billikens pulled down 12 offensive rebounds on the way to a 30-rebound night for the team. Mandy Lueking and Christan Shelton led the Bills in scoring with 10 points apiece. Beckmann was the leading rebounder with seven.

The Bills proceeded to Wilmington, NC for the Holiday Inn Beach Blast Tournament. The Bills first opponent was North Carolina A&T. The Bills broke out of their shooting slump and shot 56 percent in the first half and held North Carolina A&T to 36 percent from the floor. The Bills cruised to a 74-46 victory.

“It was a team effort. We had some other players step up and get some playing time,” Pizzotti said.

The Bills moved into the championship game against UNC Wilmington. It was a hard- fought defensive battle, as both teams shot under 42 percent in the game, but the Bills ended up losing 74-68. Lueking led the Billikens’ offensive attack with 23 points, along with Beckmann’s 16 points and Shelton’s 13 points. Beckmann also pulled down 18 boards.

The Bills returned home for a game against Hampton. The Bills shot 44 percent from the field in the game and maintained the lead throughout the game. The Billikens played suffocating defense and held Hampton to 28 percent from the field in the second half. Lueking Shelton, Beckmann and Amie Van Deurzen were all in double figures as the Bills won 76-66.

The Bills traveled to Kansas City for a game against the nationally ranked Kansas Jayhawks. SLU missed 14 of their first 15 shots, but persevered and battled back. The Bills played strong defense, hit all three of the 3-pointers they took and shot 75 percent from the free-throw line in the first half. The Bills ended the first half on a 12-2 run and led 25-22 at halftime, as Harmonie King hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Billikens pushed the lead to 8 points five minutes into the second half. The Jayhawks roared back. The teams went back and forth until there were four minutes left in the game.

Kansas ended the game with a 5-0 run and won 50-45. Lueking led the Bills with 15 points, and Beckmann added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“We felt good going in,” Pizzotti stated. “We knew Lynn Pride would be a challenge. We had matchup challenges because of Kansas’ size. We had to adjust and used a zone the entire game. We had chances to win. In the last three minutes, we didn’t execute well enough to win,” Pizzotti added.

The Bills opened their Conference USA schedule against the UNC Charlotte 49ers at home. SLU shot 31 percent from the field in the first half and trailed by 7 at halftime. The Billikens battled back, but ended up losing 60-58. Shelton led the Billikens with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Beckmann added 17 points and nine rebounds.

The Bills then went on the road for their next two Conference USA games. SLU traveled to Houston first.

The Bills shot 45 percent in the first half and held the Cougars to 29 percent.

Houston roared back in the second half and upended the Bills 53-52. Lueking and Shelton led the Bills with 12 points each.

“The Bills won their first conference game against South Florida. The Bills lead 37-24 at halftime and maintained their dominance of South Florida as the Bills won 79-69. Lueking led SLU with 23 points. Shelton added 19 points and Beckmann notched 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bills have two tough conference opponents coming to town this weekend.

On Friday, Dec.14, the Bills face Marquette and on Sunday, Dec. 16, DePaul visits SLU. Friday’s contest is at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s game is at 2 p.m.