SLU Wins Physical Against Charlotte 76-58

Saint Louis (19-5, 8-2 A-10) beat Charlotte, 76-58, for its seventh win in a row. SLU now turns its attention to Virginia Commonwealth in a Tuesday battle for Atlantic 10 supremacy.

In the race for the Atlantic 10 regular season title, Saint Louis continued to show that it was firmly in the hunt, as it downed Charlotte 76-58.

The Billikens, now 19-5 on the season and 8-2 in conference play, were led by 18 points from senior forward Cody Ellis, 16 from junior guard Jordair Jett, and 13 from junior guard Jake Barnett.

A physical and bruising game in the paint saw the Bills actually get outscored 34-18 down low, but they were able to take advantage of 11 three-pointers and some lockdown defense in the final 25 minutes.

"I thank Jordair [Jett] and Mike [McCall]," Barnett said. "They did a real good job of finding me tonight. It felt good to finally be able to knock some down. I was just happy I was able to help out my team."

Barnett, who hit four timely triples, was nearly tied by Ellis' three treys.

Charlotte fought hard for the first half and used its size to its advantage.

"They're a good, scrappy team," Ellis said. "They have a few big bigs and we just did a good job of sticking to our game plan."

With a victory over the 49ers now in the bag, the Billikens will have several other chances to prove their worth to the NCAA Tournament committee. Still remaining on their schedule is VCU, Butler, La Salle, Xavier, and St. Joe's, who all pose strong tests.

Although it wasn't the prettiest of games, SLU ran away with it for an emphatic victory. Afterwards, head coach Jim Crews said he didn't mind the physical nature of the tilt.

"Go to Miss America if you want a beauty contest," he said. "This is college athletics."

To counter the physical play that kept the game close early, SLU turned to its bench, which ended up with huge production from Ellis and Barnett.

"Our bench has been great," Crews said. "It's been a strength of ours. It's great, good, good stuff. . .Jake has had a tremendous year for us. He's known as a shooter, per se. He's been on the floor because of his defense and his rebounding and his decision-making."

SLU now turns its attention to VCU on Tuesday as the Rams roll into town. The game will be for sole ownership of first place in the league. After that, SLU will trip to Butler on Friday.

"[VCU] is a pressing team," Crews said. "If you take VCU, Charlotte, Fordham, Richmond, four completely different styles of play. . .It's an interesting challenge as a team and coach."

Ellis suggested that many other leagues don't have to face such discrepancy between styles of play, but it will keep them ready for the postseason.

With this one in the "W" column, though, the Billikens will return to Chaifetz Arena in just under 48 hours to face one of the nation's best defenses.

The "HAVOC" physicality is a bit different than what the Bills saw from Charlotte tonight, but the motto will be the same -- as Ellis said, "We must be ball strong."

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