Billikens end season with loss in A-10 tournament

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Billikens end season with loss in A-10 tournament

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The end of the SLU men’s basketball season ended on a low note, as the team went 0-5 in its last five games. This is the first time in four seasons that SLU has not been to the NCAA tournament. The three consecutive trips leading up to this season was a school record, and SLU was one of only one of 10 programs in the nation to accomplish this feat.  The season officially ended on March 11, in Brooklyn, New York, in the Atlantic 10 Basketball Championship Tournament when Duquesne, the 11-seed, defeated SLU, the 14th and lowest seed, by a score of 61-55.

Before playing in the A-10 tournament, the Billikens played their final conference game in Richmond, Virginia, against the Spiders. Richmond beat SLU 67-51. Sophomore forward Reggie Agbeko had his first career double-double in the loss, with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He went 6-of-9 from the floor and played 34 minutes, a career-high. Junior guard Ash Yacoubou, the second leading scorer, netted 10 points and snagged six rebounds. Sophomore guard Mike Crawford set his new career-high in rebounding with eight, breaking his previous career-high set the previous game. Junior guard Austin McBroom added eight points, two were 3-pointers.

SLU hung within reach of the Spiders all game, and early in the game the score was tied 12-12. Later in the half, SLU went on a 7-0 run to claw back within three points of Richmond with six minutes left in the first half. Richmond responded with its own 8-0 run to take a 10-point lead and a 36-27 halftime advantage.

Early in the second half, the Billikens came within seven of the Spiders, but they again went on an 8-0 scoring run to give them a double-digit lead that held the rest of the game.

Play concluded in St. Louis on March 4, against St. Bonaventure. Seniors John Manning and Grandy Glaze were honored since it was their final home game as Billikens. A win in this game, or any of those subsequent, would have made them the winningest players in SLU basketball history. The Billikens also bid farewell to four senior student managers.

SLU lost to the Bonnies by a score of 64-48. Yacoubou was the Billikens leading scorer with 11 points, as he went 5-of-9 from the floor. Crawford added nine points and five rebounds, while freshman forward Austin Gillmann snagged a career-high eight rebounds.

St. Bonaventure shot 51.9 percent from the field in the half, and had two players score more than 16 points in their victory. SLU’s only lead in the game came when it jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start. The Bonnies led by as many as 12 points in the first half and led 38-26 going into the break.

Freshman guard Marcus Bartley and Gillmann both nailed 3-pointers to pull SLU within four, 39-35, with 12:12 left in the game, but a 12-2 run cushioned the Bonnies lead en route to a 16-point win.

Two Billikens received all-conference honors. Freshman guard Milik Yarbrough was one of five players named to the A-10 All-Rookie team. Crawford was named to the All-Academic team. A-10 newcomer Davidson claimed both the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.

SLU finished the season 3-15 in the A-10, and 11-21 overall. It had just one win on the road the entire season, which came on Nov. 18 against Indiana State, 69-59. SLU was outscored by opponents by an average of 6.5 points per game.

Freshman guard Davell Roby and Yacoubou were the only two players to start more than 30 games; they also had the most average minutes per game at about 26 and 24 respectively. Seven players played in all 32 games this season, with 11 playing in 26 or more.

Yarbrough averaged the most points per game for the Billikens with 10, but it was Agbeko who led the team in field goal percentage at .524. The team averaged .411 from the floor on the season.

Next year, SLU returns all but two players and will again only have two seniors in McBroom and Yacoubou. The team will again be young, with six sophomores on scholarship, assuming no transfers in or out. Two players in the class of 2015 have signed and committed to SLU for next season. The commits are 6’9” Elliot Welmer from Columbus, Indiana, and 6’11” Matt Neufeld. The Billikens still have two open offers to players.