Despite a career-high 18 points by Brian Conklin and a double-double by Willie Reed, the Saint Louis Billikens fell 65-54 to Iowa State in the Chicago Invitational Challenge at UIC Pavilion on Friday afternoon. The loss snaps SLU’s four-game winning streak.
The Billikens took an early 5-3 lead on Brian Conklin’s layup off a feed from Justin Jordan at the 17:16 mark. ISU’s Craig Brackins answered with a 3-pointer, but a layup by Justin Jordan put SLU back on top. The teams traded the lead, and Cory Remekun’s soaring dunk at the 8:32 mark pushed the Billikens to a 17-16 advantage. The Cyclones edged out to a 28-23 margin but consecutive layups by Conklin brought the Billikens to 28-27. The Cyclones scored in the final minute to take a 30-27 lead at the break. The Billiken inside game carried the scoring load as SLU scored 24 of its 27 points in the paint.
The Billikens scored the first four points of the second half on hoops from Christian Salecich and Conklin for a 31-30 lead. However, ISU answered with 13 straight points to surge to a 43-31 lead seven minutes into the second half. Femi John finally scored in traffic to break the SLU drought. Willie Reed’s dunk in transition cut the Billiken gap to single figures at 43-35 with 12 minutes to play. ISU used a 12-2 run to rebuild a 54-37 lead.
Conklin scored five points during a 6-0 SLU burst to closed the 54-43 at the 5:29 mark. The ISU lead was 58-45 before the Billikens made another push. Reed threw down another dunk and sank two free throws as SLU inched to nine at 58-49 with just under two minutes left. Kwamain Mitchell hit a 3-pointer as the Billikens got as close at 60-52 at the 1:13 mark, but the Cyclones hit five of six free throws in the final minute to blunt the Billiken rally.
Conklin hit 8-of-10 shots to tie his career high with 18 points. Reed added 14 points and hauled down a career-best 13 rebounds. The Billikens held the Cyclones to just 37.9 percent shooting and out-rebounded ISU by one. However, the Cyclones hit five more 3-pointers
The Billikens are now 4-1 on the season, while the Cyclones improve to 6-0. The Billikens will play the Notre Dame game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.