Xavier beats Saint Louis 76-68, extends streak
CINCINNATI (AP)—Tu Holloway scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half on Saturday, rallying Xavier from a four-point deficit to a 76-68 victory over Saint Louis that extended the Musketeers’ home winning streak in Atlantic 10 play.
The Musketeers (16-6, 8-1) have won their last 37 A-10 home games, the league record. They relied on their guards to keep it going after falling behind by four early in the second half.
Guard Mark Lyons added 15 points, 10 of them in the second half. Center Kenny Frease had 12 points, all in the first half.
Saint Louis (8-14, 3-6) has the league’s worst offense but made its first nine shots to open the second half, taking the lead before Holloway turned it around. Forward Brian Conklin led the Billikens with a career-high 24 points, going 11 of 15 from the field. Rob Loe added 18.
The Billikens lost sophomore forward Cody Ellis to a dislocated shoulder with 57 seconds left in the first half. He dived for a loose ball and drove his right shoulder into Xavier’s Dante Jackson before hitting the floor. Ellis lay on the floor for several minutes holding the shoulder, then went directly to the locker room.
Ellis, who is the Billikens’ second-leading rebounder, sat on the bench with his arm in a sling during the second half.
The Billikens stayed in the game in the first half by bringing a front-line player out to help pressure Holloway, who is Xavier’s leading scorer at 20.7 points. That opened things up below the basket, and Xavier took advantage.
Frease scored 10 points during an opening 25-16 spurt. At that point, he had five baskets in six tries—as many field goals as all the Billikens combined. Saint Louis managed only four free throws over an eight-minute span, missing seven shots.
Xavier led 31-24 at the half. Frease was 6 of 9 from the field for 12 points, only one basket less than all the Billikens combined. Saint Louis went 7 of 23 from the field.
Saint Louis spread the floor in the second half and either passed inside for layups or got open shots on the perimeter. Loe hit a pair of 3s during an 8-0 run that put Saint Louis ahead for the first time since the opening minutes. The Billikens made their first nine shots in the half, passing inside to the 6-foot-6 Conklin once it was apparent he had the touch.
Conklin scored 12 points in the first four minutes of the half, making a pair of three-point plays that helped push the Billikens’ lead to 42-38.
The Billikens packed in their defense in the second half to stop Frease, giving Xavier’s guards room to create shots off drives to the basket. Holloway and Lyons scored the Musketeers’ first 20 points in the half—15 by Holloway. Jackson’s 3 rebuilt Xavier’s lead to 56-52.
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus was so unhappy with a traveling call on one of his players that he slammed his hand on the scorer’s table and hit a laptop, cracking the screen. He wasn’t called for a technical.
Holloway’s long 3 with the shot clock running down and Jamel McLean’s putback on the next possession made it 65-57 with 5:13 to go. Xavier was never in trouble again.