Lisch, Husak Lead Billikens Past Furman

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis University basketball team were winless in two meetings against the Furman Paladins going into Saturday night's non-conference matchup. But those games were played before Rick Majerus took over as the Billikens coach and before Bryce Husak arrived on campus.

Furman led Saint Louis by three points at halftime, but it was Husak, a 7-foot senior center, along with junior guards Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell III who sparked the Billikens in the second half and helped them pull away for an 83-69 victory at Scottrade Center.

"We didn't panic, like the coaches told us after the game," Lisch said. "We just stuck to our game plan. We got some good stops, some fast break points. The crowd kind of got into it and that gave us some momentum there."

Lisch scored a game-high 23 points, including 13 free throws, and added seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in 37 minutes. Husak scored a career-high 20 points and added three blocked shots.

"He does a good job of affecting the game and trying to be big," Majerus said. "He suffers from what all big guys suffer: a sense of big self-esteem. The world's a tough place and big guys always come late. He's trying hard."

When asked the last time Husak had a game like this, Lisch joked that it was in grade school.

"It's been a while," Husak said. "The opportunities haven't always presented themselves and tonight they did. It was like the last game we played, my teammates really worked the ball inside to me and really gave me a lot of opportunities. Luckily I was able to capitalize on them."

Through five games Husak is averaging 9.8 points per game, which ties him with Liddell and senior forward Luke Meyer for second on the team in scoring behind Lisch (17.2 points per game).

"The guy is 7-1," Lisch said. "There is nobody near him up at that altitude I guess. He's been posting up strong. He can catch the ball. He can just turn and jump-hook. I have all the confidence in the world in him."

Liddell, a second-team all-Atlantic 10 selection a year ago when he led the Billikens in scoring at 15.4 points per game, was not in the starting lineup after arriving late for a shootaround earlier in the day and did not play in the first half.

"In my 15 years at Utah I think I had two players late," Majerus said. "The bus leaves, the plane leaves and life goes on. He was late for the shootaround and late is not where you want to be. If there was some kind of a good cause or reason for it, I understand that. There wasn't. There's no way I was going to play him the first half and hopefully he learned his lesson and there's some transference to a life situation."

When Liddell checked into the game with 17:58 remaining, SLU immediately scored six straight points to tie the score at 44-44. Liddell scored four of those points and finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action.

"Tommie gave us a big spark," Lisch said. "He was, I think personally, one of the major reasons. He kind of got us over the hump there. He really lifted us up there."

The Billikens (4-1) outscored Furman (0-3) 47-30 in the second half.

The Paladins led by as many as eight points in the first half and held a 53-52 advantage with 12:13 remaining when freshman guard Jordan Miller made one of two free throws. But the team made just four shots from the field after that point.

The Paladins' only field goal in the last 5 minutes was a 3-pointer from freshman guard Connor Nolte with 39.8 seconds remaining.

"For the most part I'm pretty pleased with what we did," Furman coach Jeff Jackson said. "We just have to do a better job in the last four or five minutes of closing the game and making good decisions down the stretch."

Saint Louis outscored Furman 19-6 in the last 5 minutes. Lisch scored seven of those points, including three free throws, and Husak added six.

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