The Saint Louis University men’s basketball team continues to face adversity throughout their Atlantic 10 schedule. The Billikens hosted George Mason on Jan. 17, without sophomore forward Brett Jolly. Coach Crews revealed that Jolly has been suspended due to internal business, and the length of the suspension is unknown.
A new starting lineup was featured this game, with freshman guard Aaron Hines, freshman guard Jermaine Bishop, and freshman center Matt Neufeld lining up at half court for the tip-off alongside senior guard Ash Yacoubou and junior forward Mike Crawford. Hines is a former walk on, while Bishop and Neufeld are both freshman.
This lineup was a drastic change from the Billikens usual starting five, and it showed as George Mason led for most of the first half. They had a seven point advantage on two different occasions before the Billiken offense regrouped and put together a 12-4 run, taking the first lead of the game, 21-20. Although George Mason took advantage of their next two possessions to get to the basket, Bishop responded for the Billikens by hitting a three-pointer, and Crawford added a bucket of his own to give SLU a 26-24 lead. George Mason took the lead once again after an 8-2 spurt that gave them the 32-28 advantage, which was cut to 34-31 by halftime.
George Mason came out of the locker room on fire to begin the second half. SLU fell into a 3:16 offensive slump, which allowed the Patriots to gain their largest lead of the game, 57-46, with 11:25 left to play. The Billikens hung on and found themselves down by only eight, 60-52, with 8:54 left in regulation. The Patriots gave themselves some breathing room after draining two threes as well as a pair of free throws to make the score 68-54. SLU’s offense found their stride in the following five possessions in an 11-3 spurt that diminished George Mason’s lead to 71-65. Although the Patriots only had a 78-71 lead with 2:01 left in the game, sharp shooting from behind the free throw line allowed George Mason to seal a 92-79 victory.
Crawford had a career-high 22 points, shooting 10-of-19 from the field. Hines also had a notable game, scoring a career-high 14 points and shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Bishop scored 15 points and recorded a team- high five assists. This performance earned Bishop the A-10 co-Rookie of the Week, as he has averaged 18 points per game in two games last week.
The Billikens hosted Davidson on Jan. 20. Jolly was seen warming up before the game. SLU kept the game close in the opening minutes. Yacoubou hit back-to-back threes making the score 9-8. Roby made his return to the court after 4:30 had passed in the game. This was the first time Roby has played since the first half of the game against Duquesne on Jan. 13.
The Billikens trailed Davidson 23-14 with 11:44 left in the first half. SLU hit a slight offensive drought, making only two of their eight field goal attempts, but still kept the score within ten.
SLU tied the game at 34 with 5:33 left in the half. Jolly entered the game soon after. Bishop once again came through for the Billikens, draining a basket to give the SLU the 47-46 advantage at the half. The Billikens 47 point rampage was the most points that have been scoredin one half at Chaifetz, which the team began playing at in the 2008-09 season.
Hines started the second half off with a quick basket that gave the Billikens the 49-46 lead. SLU fought for an eight point lead, but after the Wildcats completed a three point play from the free throw line, the lead was cut to five.
SLU continued to attack the basket to add onto their already 26 points in the paint. Although SLU led the game 64-58 with 13:30 left in the game, fouls allowed Davidson to shoot the rest of the way. Yacoubou’s amazing performance kept the Billikens in the lead 77-68 with 7:32 left on the clock.
With just under two minutes left in the game, Davidson hit a crucial three to pull them within five, 87-82. Davidson launched a full court press and quickly fouled Bishop on the inbound pass. Bishop drained both free throws.
Davidson continued to press and foul, but the Billikens shot well from behind the free throw line to hold the lead. With 41 seconds left Crawford was sent to the line, but could not convert on the free throw. Fortunately for the Billikens, Dayton could not knock down another three and had to continue to foul in order to preserve the clock. Bishop was fouled on a defensive rebound and sealed the game with two more free throws.
Davidson continued to foul, but the damage was already done and they could not recover. SLU defeated the Wildcats by a score of 96-87.
Ash Yacoubou led the offense with 27 points, a career-high. Bishop contributed 23 points, which was a career-high for him as well. This game marked the first time since 2002 that the Billikens had this kind of high scoring game. Agbeko recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. As a team, the Billikens shot 54 percent from the field. They also shot an astounding 41 percent from behind the the arc. The Billikens will travel to Massachusetts to play UMass on Jan. 23.