Men struggle to bring in wins over winter break

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Men struggle to bring in wins over winter break

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Billiken men’s basketball saw a lot of action over the  winter break, posting a 2-8 record.

The Billikens first traveled to Southern Illinois University Carbondale on  Dec. 14. Despite sophomore guard Jermaine Bishop being out with an injury, SLU shot 60 percent in the first half and hit seven 3-pointers. SLU took a 32-30 lead to the locker room at halftime.

However, the Salukis battled back in the second half, winning 70-55.

Reggie Agbeko registered his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 11 and rebounding 11; junior guard Davell Roby, who hit three treys, scored 10; and freshman guard Zeke Moore hit three treys and scored nine.

Next up was a home match against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on  Dec. 17. SLU played strong for most of the game, only slipping for two brief periods during the second half. Agbeko tailed 20 points, Roby and senior guard Mike Crawford tallied 15 points and freshman forward Elliott Welmer had six blocks (tied for third-highest in Billiken history) in the 72-58 win.

SLU next hosted Winthrop on  Dec. 22. SLU struggled in the first five minutes of the second half, but clawed back to briefly tie the score at 12-12. However, Winthrop built a double-digit lead and headed to the half leading 35-26. SLU tried to bounce back in the second half, managing to keep Winthrop from scoring a field goal for over nine minutes, but were unable to overcome the deficit. Winthrop won 66-55.

After taking a short break for Christmas, SLU traveled to Philadelphia on Jan. 4 to play LaSalle. While led by Agbeko and Roby, who scored 14 apiece, and Crawford, who scored 11, the Billikens were unable to overcome a 10-1 run by LaSalle at the start of the second half. SLU lost 75-54.

SLU traveled back home on Jan. 8 and hosted Davidson. SLU was down for most of the game, but kept the lead slim throughout. At the 7:40 mark in the first half, freshman forward Jalen Johnson brought the Billikens within four with a 3-pointer. Davidson rallied to lead 47-28 at the half. SLU struggled defensively at the start of the second half, but came as close as eight points with 5:41 left in the second half. SLU lost 77-66, despite a strong showing from Crawford, who scored 16; junior guard Aaron Hines and Roby, who each tallied 13; and Johnson, who tallied nine.

The Billikens headed east again to face Duquesne on Jan. 11. Notably, Agbeko came off the bench early in the game. He went on to score 18 points and grab eight rebounds. Roby chipped in 14 points and Johnson, who had his first career start, chipped in nine. SLU spent much of the second half either in the lead or close to it. SLU went down 52-48 with 12:06 left in the second half and traded the lead early in the second half. SLU had numerous opportunities to get back on top late in the second half, but failed to do so. Agbeko hit a layup with 5:38 left in the second half to tie the game at 62-62, but missed the first shot on a 1-and-1. He later hit a pair of free throws to bring SLU back within one, but two missed baskets and a turnover on the next SLU possessions sealed the 73-66 victory for Duquesne.

The Billikens stayed out east, traveling to Virginia for a game against George Mason on Jan. 14. Johnson posted career highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds in this A-10 victory for SLU. Crawford and Agbeko joined Johnson in double figures, scoring 13 and 12. SLU also forced 11 George Mason turnovers, converting them into 20 points. SLU led for most of the game, but George Mason took a short-lived 54-52 lead with 3:52 to go in the second half. Crawford and Hines started the 11-0 run that secured the SLU victory. 63-56 was the final from Fairfax.

Students returned to campus for a game against St. Bonaventure on Jan. 17. St. Bonaventure got off to a fiery start, shooting 60.7 percent from the field, and taking a 46-15 lead to the half. SLU fared better in the second half, but only came within 14 points. 71-52 was the final score. Roby scored a team-high 17, missing only one shot all night. Welmer went 5-8 from the field, scoring 11.

The Billikens next traveled to Dayton on Jan. 22 for a game against their A-10 rival. SLU got on top early, with a 10-4 lead just over three minutes into the game. Dayton took a 31-18 lead to the half after a 21-2 rally, and went on to win 67-46. Crawford led SLU with 11 points and a season high eight rebounds. Agbeko and Roby recorded seven points apiece.

The men returned to Chaifetz to take on UMass on Jan. 25. SLU took their second conference victory, 74-70.

SLU remained steady on both sides of the ball for the entirety of the game, giving UMass the lead for only 51 seconds total. Despite a lower field-goal percentage (35 percent to UMass’s 47 percent), SLU’s free throws and three-point shooting carried them through the battle. This game was all about distance shooting for the Billikens as they scored only 14 points in the paint to UMass’s 38.

The men continue on through conference, traveling to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 28 to face George Washington at 3 p.m.