Billikens Win In OT

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis University basketball team had been in this exact spot twice before, going into overtime in an Atlantic 10 Conference game at Scottrade Center. This time, the Billikens found a way to win.

After disappointing overtime performances in losses against Dayton and Temple, Saint Louis was able to overcome a 10-point second half deficit to defeat visiting Fordham 69-65 on Wednesday night.

"This is great," junior guard Tommie Liddell said. "After we broke from the huddle in the locker room, (assistant coach Porter Moser) said a month ago we would have lost this game. So I think we're doing a better job as a team and I think the coaches are doing a better job of scouting teams. This was a big win for us."

Liddell had his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Kevin Lisch led the Billikens with 22 points, including seven free throws and three 3-pointers. Senior guard Luke Meyer added 10 points.

Saint Louis, which lost to Dayton and Temple in overtime and to Xavier on a last-second shot, improved to 15-11 overall and 6-6 in Atlantic 10 play. The Billikens are now seventh in the A-10 standings.

Danny Brown defends (Jeff Roberson/AP)

"Our conference is pretty weird," Lisch said. "We're like a game away from being second and a game away from being last. It's just a pretty weird conference. We're just trying to keep improving every game and see where that takes us."

After scoring the first six points of the game, the Billikens looked sluggish for much of the first half. SLU struggled to find its rhythm offensively, had trouble containing forward Bryant Dunston and allowed too many open looks from beyond the 3-point arc.

Dunston, a 6-foot-8, 252-pound senior forward, scored the first 11 points of the game for Fordham (10-13, 4-7) and finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds. He also made two of the Rams' six 3-pointers in the first half.

Fordham led 33-24 at halftime and then increased that lead to 10 early in the second half.

"We just weren't playing in the first half really," Lisch said. "We were kind of sluggish. We weren't getting back on defense. We made some adjustments (at halftime), but we just came out and played."

Senior center Bryce Husak scored all eight of his points in the first nine minutes of the second half. His inside bucket with 11 minutes, 58 seconds remaining off a nifty feed from senior guard Danny Brown gave the Billikens their first lead of the second half at 41-40.

SLU led 55-50 with 3:08 left after a floater in the lane by Lisch, but the Billikens still couldn't contain Dunston and he kept making plays down the stretch to keep the Rams close.

Dunston scored five points in the final 1:38 of regulation, with his three-point play with 21.9 seconds left cutting the Saint Louis lead to one at 57-56.

After Lisch made two free throws, Fordham's Marcus Stout was able to knock down a 3-pointer from the left wing with 4.3 seconds remaining to tie the score at 59-59 and send it to overtime.

The first two baskets by SLU in overtime were 3-pointers from Lisch and junior forward Barry Eberhardt, which gave the Billikens the lead after each shot and kept their energy level up for the final few minutes.

Eberhardt only scored six points in 12 minutes, but his emphatic dunk in the first half and his 3-pointer in overtime were two important baskets.

"I didn't know Barry could jump like that," Lisch said of the dunk. "I'm used to seeing Barry playing on the ground there. That was something. Then that 3, that was real big. That pretty much turned the overtime for us."

Saint Louis led 67-65 after Liddell made two free throws with 45 seconds left and, after a Fordham turnover, went ahead by three after Lisch made a free throw with 21 seconds remaining.

Stout had another chance to be the hero for the Rams but he missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds. Eberhardt's free throw with 5.3 seconds left sealed the 69-65 victory.

"The guys got their chins up off their chests and stuck with it psychologically," SLU coach Rick Majerus said.

Saint Louis U. has four regular season games, including three on the road, before the start of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.

The Billikens play at Charlotte on Saturday and then at Saint Joseph's on Feb. 28 before returning to Scottrade Center to host St. Bonaventure on March 1.

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