Billikens pull huge upset on the road

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Billikens pull huge upset on the road

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The Saint Louis University men’s basketball team stunned the University of Dayton 69-51 on Senior Night at the University of Dayton Arena, shooting over 53 percent from the field and 55 percent from behind the arc. SLU dominated the Flyers in the first half, allowing just 19 Dayton points and carrying a 16-point lead going into the locker room.

The Billikens (12-17, 6-9) have now won four in a row, including three Atlantic 10 Conference matchups. This is the second year in a row that SLU has spoiled senior night celebrations for Dayton; last season, the Bills brought home a five-point victory.

The victory marks the largest margin of victory over a conference opponent this season – 18 – for the Billikens.

“We came in, and we wanted to play, and we did,” head coach Rick Majerus said. “We blocked out, we got back in transition, and we got hands up on the shots. The attitude and effort and energy [of the team] are really good.”

“We like playing here, it seems like,” Kyle Cassity said. “We shoot well here. We come in here, and it’s a great atmosphere, and we’re always pumped up to play.”

Mike McCall led three Billikens in double figures with 17 points. Rob Loe added 14 points, while Christian Salecich poured in a season-best 11 points.

The Billikens trailed 4-3 early, but scored nine straight and were not threatened the rest of the way. Eleven points in three minutes, including three 3-point shots, opened a margin of 20-9 with 11:12 to play in the first half. SLU continued to run up the score, going on a 9-0 run to end the half, book-ended by layups by Jordair Jett.

SLU hit a blistering 58 percent from the floor in the opening half, compared to just 28 percent for the Flyers. The Billikens also nailed 6-of-10 of their long-range shots, while Dayton was held without a 3-pointer in four tries.

“At half time, they were really excited, and they should have been,” Majerus said. “I told them, ‘I want to win the second half.’ We tied the second half, and that’s good for us. Dayton tried to come out and make a run … but I call the timeout, and our defense held. The guys are responding well to each other.”

Dayton opened the second half on a 5-2 spurt to draw within 13 at 37-24, but that is as close to the lead as the Flyers would get as the Billikens stretched their lead into the 20s. SLU expanded its lead to as many as 26 points, 69-43, on Loe’s jumper with 5:47 to play.

If there were any drawbacks to what could be the biggest win of the season for the Billikens, it would be that Loe’s jumper was the last bucket made by SLU. They also turned the ball over 20 times, though they also forced 16 Flyer turnovers and out-rebounded Dayton 31 to 24.

For the game, SLU downed 10 three-pointers compared to just one for the Flyers.

With No. 25 Xavier visiting Chaifetz Arena on Saturday, March 5, it is a perfect time for the young Bills to find their swagger.

“It’s the right time to find it,” a jubilant Cassity said. “We’re playing great right now; we’re hitting shots, and we’re defending. Any time we shoot that well from the outside, and the guys on the inside are going to grab those boards, you know, that opens up the floor for us to hit our shots.

“You put that together, and we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”