St. Bonaventure-Saint Louis Preview

The Associated Press

Saint Louis has relied on its usual stingy defense to maintain a lengthy win streak and reach the Top 25 for the first time this season.

The No. 24 Billikens try for a 10th straight victory Wednesday night against a St. Bonaventure team looking to scare a ranked team on the road for the second straight game.

Saint Louis (15-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) is allowing less than 60 points per game for the third straight season, ranking among the national leaders at 57.6. Its last five opponents have averaged 55.6 points and shot 35.8 percent.

The Billikens held Dayton to 30.6 percent shooting - 16.6 below its season average - in a 67-59 road victory Saturday.

Leading scorer Dwayne Evans (15.1 points per game) had 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and Austin McBroom had a season-high 17 off the bench, including six free throws in the final 41 seconds. Jordair Jett was the only other player in double figures with 12 points following a career-high 31 in a 59-58 victory at Rhode Island last Tuesday.

"We played sound throughout the entire game," said coach Jim Crews, whose team finished last season ranked 13th. "When we made mistakes, we bounced back on the next play. It was a big-time atmosphere here, and our guys kept that at bay."

After tough back-to-back road wins, Saint Louis plays its next two at home, where it has beaten eight unranked opponents by at least 14 points apiece and lost to then-No. 12 Wichita State on Dec. 1.

St. Bonaventure (11-5, 1-1) almost upset a ranked team for the first time in 14 seasons Saturday but fell 73-68 at then-No. 19 Massachusetts. The Bonnies blew a 13-point lead in the final nine minutes and allowed the Minutemen to move ahead for good with 1:12 remaining.

"The crowd gets into it. It's different on the road," coach Mark Schmidt said. "Like any place, that's why it's hard to win on the road. That's why 75 percent of the teams win at home. I thought we handled it. We just didn't make enough plays.

"The last two possessions of the game we turned the ball over. I told the team you never want to say, 'What if?' What if we got a couple of shots up? Who knows?"

Senior Charlon Kloof had a team-best 15 points and seven assists while leading scorer Matthew Wright (15.9 points per game) was held to eight. Wright averaged 19.7 points in his three prior games.

St. Bonaventure has dropped 25 in a row to ranked opponents since a 57-56 win over No. 23 Temple on Jan. 15, 2000.

The Bonnies have lost their last two games against Saint Louis by a combined 34 points. The Billikens limited them to 36.2 percent shooting and 2 of 16 from 3-point range in a 67-57 road win Jan. 26. Evans led Saint Louis with 18 points.

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