Theresa Lisch led all scorers with 18 points, while adding five steals and four assists. Katie Paganelli chipped in 12, including 8-of-9 free throws, and a game-high five assists, while Lauren Woods also finished in double figures with 11 points.
India Warfield led the SLU newcomers with nine points and a game-high nine rebounds in addition to five steals. The Bears had three players with 10 points.
Paganelli scored the first SLU points on a free throw, and Jameela Haynes' basket tied the game at 3-3. On the next Billiken possession, Lisch sank two free throws for SLU's first lead of the night. The game was tied at 7-7 until the Billikens reeled off four consecutive points on free throws by Paganelli and Warfield.
The Billikens were still on top 13-9 five minutes in on two charity tosses by Paganelli, but the Bears answered with five straight to retake the lead 14-13 at the 13:06 mark. The Billikens responded with a 6-0 spurt to build a 20-14 lead. Lisch's 3-pointer capped the run at the 10:09 mark.
The Bears closed to 20-19, but Heather King's layup pushed SLU back to a 22-19 lead. After a WU turnover, Lisch swished a trey from the right baseline for a 25-19 advantage.
SLU edged back to a five-point lead 30-25 on an Alisha Goodwin jumper and a deep 3-pointer from Woods. However, the Bears tallied nine straight points and eventually took a 34-32 lead at halftime. The Billikens enjoyed a 29-17 rebounding advantage in the first half, including a staggering 18 on the offensive end.
WU stretched its advantage to its largest of the night by scoring the first two hoops of the second half to inch to a 38-34 lead 90 seconds into the period. The Billiken defense clamped down and held the Bears without a point for over four minutes. The SLU offense caught fire and ran off 11 straight points to surge back into the lead. Woods' jumper ignited the run, and three free throws drew SLU to one. Paganelli's three-point play pushed SLU into a 40-38 margin. Lisch scored five consecutive points as SLU built the advantage to 45-38 six minutes into the second half.
WU finally ended the Billiken burst with a 3-pointer by Halsey Ward, and Zoe Unruh's hoop pulled the Bears to 45-43. Goodwin hit two jumpers around a Lisch free throw for a 50-43 Billiken lead at the 11:53 mark. After WU cut the gap to 50-45, the Billikens reeled off 11-consecutive points to surge to a 61-45 lead. Kaelin Reid began the streak with a hoop in transition off a Janisha Geralds feed. One free throw by Woods and a layup by Nicole Johnson pushed the Billikens to their first double-digit lead of the evening. Haynes' short jumper handed the Billikens their largest lead at 61-45 with 8:04 remaining in the contest.
The Bears slowly made one last push and cut the deficit to single digits, but Paganelli's long jumper stemmed the run with three minutes left to play. Consecutive buckets by SLU in transition from Warfield and Woods restored the double-digit lead 71-57 as the Billikens held on for the victory.
The Billikens open the season on Friday, Nov. 14, when they play at Southern Illinois.