Xavier gained control with a 16-0 second-half run and held off a furious Saint Louis rally to post a 73-71 Atlantic 10 Conference victory Wednesday night at Chaifetz Arena.
The loss snapped SLU’s six-game winning streak and dropped the Billikens to 18-9 overall and 9-4 in the A-10. Xavier, which moved into a first-place tie with the victory, improved to 20-7 overall and 11-2 in the league.
Jordan Crawford, the A-10’s leading scorer, tallied a game-high 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Jason Love added 21 points and a team-high nine rebounds, leading the Musketeers to a 42-28 advantage on the boards.
Kwamain Mitchell led the Billikens with 21 points that included a 5-of-8 effort from beyond the arc. Cody Ellis scored 19 points, while Willie Reed registered his seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while also blocking four shots. Kyle Cassity dished out a game-high six assists, followed by Mitchell and Christian Salecich with four apiece.
Crawford and Love scored on Xavier’s first two second-half touches to slice the Billikens’ 34-28 halftime lead to 34-32.
Following a SLU timeout, Cassity beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer, only to see Xavier narrow the gap to a point, 37-36, with Love’s layup and two Terrell Holloway free throws. Mitchell drained a 3-pointer, but Love answered with a conventional 3-point play that made it a one-point game again, 40-39.
Cassity and Crawford exchanged buckets, and a Justin Jordan trey put the Bills on top 45-41. Love’s runner was followed by a Salecich basket, and Holloway notched a trifecta to trim the SLU lead to 47-46. Reed hit a short jumper in the lane, and Holloway came right back with a basket to make it a 49-48 Saint Louis advantage. Love’s tip-in with 11:00 left gave XU its first lead since an early 4-3 edge, and Holloway drove for a layup and a 52-49 Musketeer advantage.
Crawford continued the spurt with a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner, and Lyons converted a turnover into a fast-break layup. Love grabbed an offensive rebound, made a layup while falling away and was fouled, and the free throw gave Xavier its first double-digit lead, 59-49.
Crawford’s trey from deep in the left corner capped the run with the Musketeers holding a 62-49 cushion.
Reed ended the SLU dry spell with a straight-on 14-foot bank shot, and Ellis followed with a field goal and three free throws that pulled the Bills to within eight, 64-56.
Following Jamel McLean’s offensive board and layup, Xavier was called for a technical foul. Ellis sank both free throws, and Reed converted a layup for a four-point possession that trimmed the Xavier lead to 66-60.
Following a Crawford 3-pointer, Ellis sank two free throws and Mitchell drove for a layup that narrowed the SLU deficit to 69-64. Crawford hit a short jumper, then the Bills made it a one-possession game, 71-68, with Ellis’ baseline drive and Mitchell’s jumper from the foul line. The Musketeers misfired on their next possession, and Reed made one free throw after collecting an offensive rebound to pull the Billikens closer, 71-69, with 1:00 remaining.
Love missed with time winding down on the shot clock, and SLU rebounded. Mitchell’s 3-point attempt for the lead was just off the mark, and Xavier gathered the rebound after a scramble and called a timeout with 10.1 seconds to play. The Bills forced a held ball, but the Musketeers owned the possession arrow. Love snatched a long pass out of the air and was fouled with 4.6 seconds to play. He converted both free throws, making Mitchell’s layup with less than a second to play meaningless.
Story courtesy of SLU athletics.