Billikens Hold Off Jaguars

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis freshman guard Mike McCall hit four crucial free throws in the final 30 seconds as the Billikens topped IUPUI 58-55 Saturday at Chaifetz Arena on Ed Macauley Day

Junior guard Paul Eckerle led the Billikens (3-2) with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. McCall was 7-of-7 from the foul line and finished with nine points. The Billiken defense held the Jaguars (2-4) to 35.3 percent shooting from the floor and did not allow the Jaguars a three-point field goal.

SLU led 39-28 at halftime and sophomore guard Christian Salecich and freshman forward Dwayne Evans nailed mid-range jumpers to stretch the Billiken lead to a game-high 15 at the 17:49 mark of the second session.

But the Billikens would go more than 10 minutes before recording another field goal, and IUPUI closed its deficit to seven at 47-40 with 11:40 remaining in the contest. Sophomore forward Cory Remekun and McCall drained two free throws apiece to help the Billikens cling to the lead during the scoring drought. The Billikens ended the skid with 7:03 remaining when Jordair Jett converted a running layin off a steal to give the Billikens a 51-47 advantage.

Later, junior guard Kyle Cassity drained a runner as the shot clock expired to give the Bills a 53-47 lead with 4:30 left. But two consecutive buckets by IUPUI's Alex Young got the Jaguars to within two at 53-51 with 3:07 to go. Young then tied it up with a layin, forcing a SLU timeout with 1:19 remaining in the contest.

Out of the timeout, Salecich was fouled and went to line, making one of two to give SLU a one-point advantage in the final minute. IUPUI misfired on its next possession, and SLU got the ball with 30 seconds left. The Jaguars were in foul mode, sending McCall to the stripe with 29 seconds left, where he calmy connected on both shots to put the Billikens up 56-53.

With the ball and the shot clock off, Young scored his eighth straight point to pull the Jags to within one with 15 seconds left. McCall was fouled quickly upon getting the ensuing in-bounds pass, and he again hit both free throws to put SLU up 58-55 with 14 seconds left.

On the final possession, IUPUI misfired on a pair of 3-point attempts, the last of which was blocked by Remekun, and the Billikens escaped with the 58-55 victory.

The two teams traded buckets early in the first half before the Billikens went on a 12-0 run to lead 19-8 midway through the first half. McCall sparked the rally with a traditional 3-point play. Eckerle then drained two-straight 3-pointers from the right side to push the Billikens to a 16-8 advantage. Cassity completed the run with a 3-pointer of own, and SLU led 19-8 with 9:45 remaining in the first half.

IUPUI would score the next two buckets and pulled to within five at 19-14, but a Cody Ellis layin and a Cassity trey stretched the Billikens lead to 10 at 24-14. The Jaguars again inched back into the game and pulled to within five. But a Brian Conklin layin and a Dwayne Evans traditional 3-point lead gave the Billikens a 29-21 lead with 4:04 left in the opening session.

Ecklerle would connect on another traditional 3-point play and a 3-pointer from the left side as the Billikens carried a 39-28 lead into halftime. The last two points came on a Remekun dunk at the buzzer.

The Billikens shot 43.2 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range. IUPUI's Young led all scorers with 17 points.

SLU hits the road for the first time this year when it travels to Portland, Ore., to face the University of Portland Tuesday, Nov. 30. Game time is set for 9 p.m. (CT).

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