Men’s Basketball rolls over Hartford 85-68

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Men’s Basketball rolls over Hartford 85-68

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The SLU Men’s basketball team  had their home season opener on Nov. 15 against Hartford. Sophomore center Austin Gillmann lined up for the tip and won the possession for the Billikens. SLU got on the board first as senior guard Ash Yacoubou scored on a turnaround jumper in the paint. The Billikens made a quick defensive stop on the other end and regained possession. Junior forward Mike Crawford drained a three to extend the Billiken lead to five. Hartford was able to get on the board in the next possession, but the Bills quickly responded with an easy layup from  Gillmann. SLU continued to push the ball up the court and earned a 16-2 lead after sophomore guard Marcus Bartley banged in a three, but then the offense went cold and allowed  Hartford to claw their way back into the game. With a 16-15 Billiken lead and 11:57 left in the half, freshman center Matt Neufeld scored his first collegiate point on a free throw. He then added two more on a floater to give the Billikens some breathing room. The 18-15 lead for the Bills was short lived, as Hartford stormed down the court and drained a three to tie the game. Hartford’s comeback breathed some life into the Billiken offense. While SLU eventually battled ahead for a seven-point lead, the half ended with a score of 37-32.

Hartford did not let up on the gas pedal to start the second half, cutting their deficit to just a basket. Then, Yacoubou backed down his defender in the paint and made a beautiful shot. The Billikens pulled away from Hartford with 18:52 left in the game, and they never looked back. Although Hartford would pull within single digits with under 15 minutes left to play, the Bills scored seven quick points in order to maintain their cushion. The Billikens extended their lead to double digits and maintained it for much of the rest of the second half, although Hartford did make a brief run with four minutes left to pull within nine. The Billikens kept the Hawks at bay with good shooting from the free throw line. The game ended in a 85-68 victory for the Billikens.

As a team, SLU shot 52.8 percent from the field. Crawford led the team on offense with 17 points, with Reynolds, Yacoubou and sophomore forward Milik Yarbrough contributing 16, 13 and 13 points respectively. Junior forward Reggie Agbeko led the Bills on the boards with a total of eight rebounds, all of which were defensive. Yacoubou and Yarbrough also came down with an impressive rebound count for the game.  Coach Crews commented on the performance from his team, stating “I thought that at the start of the game, our guys did a good job. They defended, rebounded and made some simple plays, and we really got off to a good start … We handled the ball pretty darn well. Seven turnovers and that is better than what we have done, so that was good to see and we were able to punch the ball pretty good inside tonight, so that was nice to see too.

The Billikens continued their regular season schedule at SIUE on Nov. 18. SLU won the tip, but SIUE began the game with a 7-0 run.

The Billiken offense cut the deficit to three, 9-6. Later, Roby tied the game at 19 with a three from behind the arc. Crawford then followed up with two free throws to extend the Billiken advantage, 23-29. With 4:21 left in the first half, Crawford buried a three to make it 26-21. Reynolds lead the team in points at hall with ten, followed by Yacoubou with 8. The Bills entered the lockerroom with a 32-25 lead.

SIUE pulled within three, 38-35, with 15:04 left in regulation. SIUE hit a three coming out of the media timeout to tie the game at 38, but Yacoubou responded with a quick layup to regain the two point lead. SIUE took a 43-42 lead with 12 minutes left in the game. The Bills missed multiple close range shots, and the possession eventually resulted in a traveling call on sophomore forward Milik Yarbrough.

Agbeko tied the game from the free throw line and a floater form Yacoubou allowed the Billikens to regain the 45-43 lead. Another lead change took place with eight minutes left as sharp shooting from behind the free throw line by SIUE allowed them to take a 48-47 lead. Gillmann tied the game at 50 with a beautiful three from the top of the arc.

The Billikens capitalized on free throws on the next possession, making the score 52-50 with six minutes left to play. Speed and precision by the Billikens resulted in a 59-53 lead with under four minutes left in regulation. The Bills continued with  driving the ball into the paint and decent shooting from behind the free throw line. They held on to defeat SIUE 70-60.

Yacoubou led the offense with 22 points as well as the defense with 15 rebounds, the third double-double of his career. Other notable performances included Crawford’s 15 point and three rebound contribution.

The Billikens will return to Chaefitz on Nov. 21 to play St. Francis Brooklyn.