Photo courtesy of Bill Greenblatt, UPI St. Louis

Photo by Bill Greenblatt, UPI St. Louis

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.