Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed combined for 41 points Wednesday night to lead Saint Louis to a 69-59 win over Princeton at Chaifetz Arena, to advance to the championship round of the College Basketball Invitational.
Saint Louis (23-11) will meet Virginia Commonwealth (25-9) of the Colonial Athletic Association in next week’s best-of-three finals. The Rams were 88-75 winners over Boston University Wednesday night. Game one between SLU and VCU will take place Monday, March 29, in Richmond, Va., at 6 p.m. (CT). Game two at Chaifetz Arena will tip at 7 p.m. (CT) Wednesday, March 31, while game three, if necessary, will tip at 7 p.m. (CT) start at Chaifetz Arena Friday, April 2.
Mitchell tallied game highs of 21 points and five assists, while Reed picked up his ninth double-double of the season with 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Cody Ellis and Brian Conklin added nine points apiece for the Billikens, who shot 54.5 percent (24-of-44) from the floor.
Princeton scored on five of its first seven possessions to grab a 12-7 advantage. Saint Louis grabbed the lead at 16-14 with a 9-2 run. The lead would changed hands six more times before Reed and Mitchell scored six points apiece in a 16-4 Billiken run over the final 6:55 that allowed SLU to carry a 38-29 cushion to the locker room. Reed scored all three of his baskets after grabbing offensive rebounds, while Mitchell nailed a 3-pointer early in the run and finished it with a traditional 3-point play following a running bank shot.
The Bills picked up where they left off following the break, scoring on their first three possessions. Reed had a dunk, Ellis netted a trey from the right corner and Kyle Cassity beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave SLU a 46-29 advantage.
Princeton closed the gap to eight, but Saint Louis stretched the margin to 12, 52-38, following Reed’s up-and-under layup. Princeton would never go away using another 11-3 run to cut it to six at 55-49, but the Billikens answered again to stretch the lead to 60-49.
Princeton pulled to within eight points twice down the stretch, but SLU kept the Tigers at bay by making enough free throws to preserve the victory.