St. Louis, Mo. – The No. 24 Saint Louis University Billikens took yet another step towards the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night, overcoming a sluggish start to defeat the pesky St. Bonaventure Bonnies 66-60.
The Bills have been to The Dance the past two seasons, but remain clear that it is indeed one of their main goals again in 2014.
Senior forward Dwayne Evans had his mid-range game working in the first half before switching it up and focusing inside on the block in the final 20 minutes. He posted a game-high 18 points on eight-for-12 shooting to spark the Bills despite a rather pedestrian showing at times.
The major Achilles Heel for SLU was a 16-for-30 performance at the free-throw line, which included just one make over its final eight attempts – keeping the game in doubt for far longer than it should've been.
"You're always a couple plays away from being disastrous in those things," head coach Jim Crews said. "You got to play it out."
Evans noted that the Billikens have actually been solid from the charity stripe in recent weeks, but tonight was simply not acceptable.
"We definitely got casual there for a couple minutes in the second half," he said. "We can't have lapses like that. . .I'm not going to say we were lucky to escape with the win, but we have to play better."
SLU held a single-digit advantage for much of the game until a Jordan Gathers' triple put the visiting Bonnies ahead 47-45 with 10:11 remaining. The Billikens responded back with a 12-1 run of their own though, highlighted by two threes from freshman guard Mike Crawford.
"Honestly, I don't remember much about the shots," he said. "It kind of all blurs together."
If you were like Mike or didn't happen to catch the game – he nailed two incredibly timely buckets that led the crowd into a frenzy.
"It's difficult," Crawford said of the college environment. "It's a whole different level. Just keep working, and you can achieve what you do."
SLU never relinquished the lead, as the Bonnies could only fight within as few as five points.
And for at least one more game, the Top 25 ranking lasted. But don't tell that to Evans. He doesn't want to hear it.
"It's really nothing," he said. "We take every game seriously. Every game is a big game for us. If we drop the Rhode Island one, we're in the same place. If we drop the Dayton one, we're in the same place.. It has nothing to do with the ranking, we're going out there trying to win every game.
NEXT UP: The Billikens play host to Fordham at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon at Chaifetz Arena.
Bills Win 10th Straight, Top Bonnies 66-60
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