Billikens right the ship, get much needed win in the nation’s capital


The Billikens hope to use the momentum from a much needed conference win to propel them back into position to make a run into the A-10 tournament that is quickly approaching. Photo Courtesy of Billiken Athletics.

Coming off their worst loss of the season, the SLU Men’s Basketball team now had their backs against the wall. After starting the season 5-0 in conference, the Billikens now sit with a 6-5 record and little momentum to speak of heading into the stretch of A-10 conference play.

The identity of the team has been challenged as their once nationally recognized defense had been shredded for ninety-one points at Saint Joseph’s on-route to a thirty-point loss. Despite that, Coach Ford and his Billikens were in high spirits we they came back to Chaifetz Arena for practice.

“I can’t remember the last time I ever coached that a team hit as many tough shots, as timely as they did,” Ford said. “We were in the game up until half time…and they just made timely shots, big shots.”

It seemed as though despite the loss, Ford came away from the game in brighter spirits than expected. Then again, that was a full three days since the loss, his attitude on Monday may not reflect his post-game feelings.

Regardless, the Billikens had another test to face, a test that at one point in the season may have been seen as an easier win, was now a must win matchup for the Bills. SLU travelled to Washington, D.C. to take on the George Washington University Colonials. The Colonials sat in 12th in the A-10 with a record of 3-7. If the Billikens were going to make a run at one of the four quarter-final bye’s available, they would need a win.

The Billikens dominated for most of the first half, building a lead to as many as 10 points and looking like the defensively keen ball club they were billed to be. That was until the final four minutes of the half when the Colonials went on a 9-0 run to tie the game up going into halftime, continuing a subtle trend that the Billikens achilles heel is ending halves. Especially considering the Billikens string of frustrating play, a 9-0 run to make a close game out of one that felt to be in the Bills wheel house was nerve racking to say the least.

However, that nerve came to a quick end in the second half as the dominant Bills reappeared. Strong performance from de facto team MVP Javon Bess (who played all 40 minutes) and freshmen standout Fred Thatch Jr. led the team to opening up a double-digit lead that they refused to yield, eventually winning 73-58. Hasahn French, who was vocal in practice this week about upping defensive intensity, lead the way with a team high 13 rebounds, adding two blocks and a steal.

The Billikens improved their conference record to 7-5, moving into fifth place in the conference. They play next when La Salle comes to Chaifetz Arena on Saturday before embarking on a three-game road trip in which they face three of the top four teams in the conference, an ample opportunity to move up in conference standings. The last time SLU played La Salle the Billikens won 71-64 when they visited Philadelphia earlier this season.   

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