BILLIKENS ARE A-10 CHAMPIONS

Saint Louis (23-6, 13-3 A-10) shot 85 percent from the field in the second half en route to a 78-54 victory over La Salle. The Billikens clinched at least a share of the conference title for the first time since the 1970-71 season.

St. Louis – The 42 year wait is now over.

Saint Louis won its first conference title since 1970-71 with a 78-54 rout of La Salle on Saturday afternoon at Chaifetz Arena.

A sluggish first half allowed the Billikens to cling to just a two-point advantage going into the halftime break, but the second half was a completely different story.

SLU used a 17-for-20 shooting performance in the second half to blow out the visiting Explorers and clinch the No. 1 seed in next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn.

"A lot of our [halftime] adjustments were defensively," Crews said. "Our guys did a great job of getting the ball inside and reading the defense."

Junior forwards Rob Loe and Dwayne Evans combined for 36 points on 14-for-20 shooting, as the Billikens finished off La Salle in emphatic fashion, ending the game on a 16-1 run.

Evans' 16-point, 17-rebound clinic was one of the finest individual performances of the season, and Loe was perfect from the field on seven shots, scoring 20 points.

"Going into the game and looking at their lineups, it was 6-2, 6-2, 6-foot," Evans said. "I knew we were going to have the advantage. We knew rebounding was key and we went to task."

As senior forward Cody Ellis noted postgame, most of the Billikens' buckets were layups in the final frame, as they were able to get easy looks at the rim early and often.

Getting the monkey off their program's back made the afternoon even more sweet.

"It's what we've been working for all year," Evans said. "For it to all come down to one game, it's funny how it happens. We knew we weren't going to lose this one for Kwamain, Cody, and Cory."

With four juniors playing major roles for the Billikens, they should be back in contention next year, but the focus is "here and now".

After all, the simplistic approach that interim head coach Jim Crews employs wouldn't allow for looking ahead.

Instead, the team is focused on their abilities of the present.

"It means we have a lot of guys that can score. We're not a one-dimensional team by any means. I think that puts a lot of pressure on teams defensively. It shows how committed our guys are to winning."

The late Rick Majerus would've been awfully proud of this effort.

"Everyone's life has setbacks, challenges, tragic things, and disappointments," Crews said. "These guys have certainly illustrated how to go about it. I couldn't be pleased or proud or tickled for these guys to win a championship."


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