Saint Louis defense dominates in 62-52 win over Old Dominion

Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones said his team must play smarter.

In his players' defense, the Saint Louis Billikens' defense was so active the Monarchs may not have had time to think.

The Billikens ratcheted up the intensity in the second half Wednesday and shut down the Monarchs en route to a 62-52 victory in the third-place game of the Cancun Classic's Riviera Division Wednesday at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico.

The Billikens led by two at halftime, then limited the Monarchs to 2 of 14 shooting over the first nine minutes of the second half while building a 13-point lead. After shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, the Monarchs shot just 24 percent after the break.

The aggressive Saint Louis defense also set up its offense, as the Billikens continued to make the Monarchs pay for lazy passes. Guard Jordair Jett turned two steals into an uncontested fast-break layup and a 3-pointer from forward Rob Loe, and guard Mike McCall Jr. also converted a steal into a layup to help Saint Louis get separation.

Jones said that too often the Monarchs made themselves easy for Saint Louis to defend with questionable shot selection and decision-making.

"They're excellent. They're very good," Jones said. "But we played into their hands. We're not talented enough to take those kinds of bad shots and make those kinds of decisions."

The Monarchs, who averaged just 10 turnovers through their first five games, turned it over a season-high 18 times Wednesday.

"I have no qualms with our effort," Jones said. "But we've got to be tougher."

Forward Dwayne Evans scored six of his 12 first-half points over the final five minutes to nudge Saint Louis ahead 29-27 at halftime.

Evans tipped in a missed layup by Jett and scored on consecutive layups as the Billikens regained control from the resurgent Monarchs. Old Dominion trailed 12-4 less than five minutes into the game, then held Saint Louis to just one field goal over the next seven-plus minutes to climb back in it.

A three-point play by Old Dominion freshman guard Jordan Baker with 5:09 left staked the Monarchs to a 21-19 lead before Evans went to work.

Guard Ambrose Mosley led the Monarchs with six first-half points. Old Dominion shot 50 percent from the field before the break.

Evans led Saint Louis with 21 points and Loe added 10 and hit 3 3-pointers. The Billikens made 42.6 percent of their shots and were 6 of 19 from 3-point range.

Guard Aaron Bacote scored 15 points, guard Ambrose Mosley added 12 and forward Richard Ross added nine points and nine rebounds for Old Dominion.

The victory gave Saint Louis (6-1) a split of their two-game set in Mexico. On Tuesday, the Billikens fell 63-57 to No. 10 Wisconsin, a loss that snapped their five-game winning streak.

Old Dominion, which fell 78-60 to West Virginia Tuesday, fell to 4-3.

NOTES: G Aaron Bacote, who averaged 7.8 points per game as a freshman last season, scored at least 20 points in five of his first six heading into play Wednesday. He came in averaging 21.3 points per game. ... The Billikens made their first five shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, before cooling off and finishing the half at 44 percent. ... Old Dominion returns home to face North Carolina Central on Tuesday. ... Saint Louis plays host to Wichita State on Sunday.