Kwamain Mitchell scored a career-high 33 points to lead Saint Louis to a 61-54 nonconference win over Missouri-Kansas City on Tuesday evening at Chaifetz Arena. The Billikens (8-4), who made 46.3 percent of its shots from the field, took control with a 12-0 run midway through the second half. UMKC (6-5) shot at a 41.2 percent clip and was out-rebounded 35-28.
Mitchell, whose point total was also a facility record, bettered his previous career high of 26 points. He is the first Billiken to score at least 30 points since Justin Love tossed in 31 points on Dec. 1, 1999. Christian Salecich and Justin Jordan added eight points apiece for SLU, while Trey McKinney-Jones led three Kangaroos in double figures with 18 points.
The biggest lead either team held in the first half was four points early in the game. UMKC was trailing 4-2 when it scored six straight points to claim an 8-4 lead. Jay Couisnard’s pull-up jumper in the lane at 17:23 kicked off the spurt and was followed by a fastbreak layup from Alex Bazzell before LaTreze Mushatt knocked down a shot from just inside the 3-point line with 16:18 left in the opening half.
Willie Reed tipped in an offensive rebound and Mitchell tossed in a basket to help the Bills pull even at 8-8 with 14:29 left in the half. Neither team led by more than three points for the remainder of the half, and the teams endured eight ties before heading into locker room at the break deadlocked at 25-25.
Mitchell led all first-half scorers with 13 points as SLU out-shot the Kangaroos 45.5 percent to 35.7 percent in the first half. Couisnard paced UMKC with four assists and three steals, as he and Mushatt scored eight points apiece. The Billikens held a 20-13 advantage on the boards in the first period.
After Mitchell scored the first bucket of the second half, UMKC responded by immediately regaining the lead. The Billikens got within one point on four occasions before the Roos built their largest lead of the game. A pair of Jordan free throws trimmed the margin to 36-35 with 13:41. Then McKinney-Jones and Mushatt scored on back-to-back layups and Mushatt added a free throw to put the Kangaroos up 41-35 with 12:30 to go.
UMKC’s lead didn’t last for long as Saint Louis answered with a 12-0 charge to capture the lead for good. A free throw from Reed ignited the rally and was followed seven straight points from Mitchell. Salecich completed the run by knocking down four free throws as the Bills seized the 47-41 lead at the 8:32 mark. The Bills held off a late rally by the Roos and hit 10 charity tosses down the stretch to earn the win.