Billikens Beat IUPUI

ST. LOUIS — On a night that began with its starting center out with an ankle injury and its point guard mourning the passing of his grandmother, the Saint Louis University basketball team turned in one of its best performances of the season.

The Billikens had four players score in double figures, led by junior guard Kevin Lisch's game-high 21 points, and made a season-high nine 3-pointers to defeat IUPUI 66-57 on Saturday night at Scottrade Center.

"I thought the guys really gutted it out," SLU coach Rick Majerus said.

Saint Louis (9-5) was without senior 7-foot center Bryce Husak, who sprained his ankle in practice earlier in the week. Senior point guard Dwayne Polk's grandmother passed away on Thursday night, and he responded by dishing out nine assists, scoring six points and grabbing three steals in 39 minutes.

"I really applaud Polk," Majerus said. "They told him (Friday) morning his grandma died the night before so I sent him home. He was in a good place and I told him to decide if he wanted to play or not. He felt he wanted to play, so I let him play. Sometimes that has a medicinal quality to it. He gutted that out, because I know there was a distraction."

The Billikens only used seven players, but had strong performances from several of them, led by Lisch's game-high 21 points and four 3-pointers.

Junior guard Tommie Liddell III set the tone with 12 first half points and finished with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Senior forward Luke Meyer had 12 points and junior forward Barry Eberhardt, starting in place of Husak, added 10 points and a game-high seven rebounds.

The Billikens, who have won 14 of their last 15 home games, made 54.1 percent of their shot attempts (20 of 37) and 47.4 percent of their 3-point attempts (nine of 19).

Saint Louis made 55 percent (11 of 20) of its first half shot attempts — the Billikens' best shooting first half of the season — and connected on five of 10 3-point attempts in the first 20 minutes.

SLU's seven-point halftime advantage, 30-23, was their largest lead of the first half.

IUPUI (9-3) scored the first five points of the season half. But Saint Louis answered with a 10 straight points as part of a 15-3 run and led by 14, 45-31, with 11 minutes and 19 seconds remaining.

"I thought the guys played good defense," Majerus said. "We controlled the tempo of the game with our defense. Offensively, there were a lot of adventures. It was a nice win for us."

The Jaguars trimmed the deficit to five with 5:31 left, but could not get any closer.

"They hit some tough shots and basketball is a game of runs," Lisch said. "We kind of expected that and then we bounced back."

IUPUI (9-3) was led by junior guard Gary Patterson's 18 points. Senior guard Austin Montgomery scored 13, while junior guard George Hill added 12.

IUPUI had won eight consecutive games and was 5-0 in December. The Jaguars' 9-2 start was their best since joining Division I in 1998.

IUPUI's 57 points was a season low, and the Jaguars shot 41.4 percent (24 of 58) from the field.

Majerus said he was anxious to look at the game film of the victory.

"I know I should go have some fruit," Majerus said. "I'm going to have a god damn pizza."

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