Billikens Snap Losing Streak

ST. LOUIS — There is no place like home, apparently, for the Saint Louis University basketball team. The Billikens returned from a three-game road trip with a three-game losing streak, but snapped that skid on Saturday night with a strong defensive effort.

Senior guard Kevin Lisch had a team-high 14 points to go along with five assists and five steals as Saint Louis defeated Savannah State 55-37 before a crowd of 6,152 at Chaifetz Arena.

"It's definitely good to be back with our crowd here," Lisch said. "They were loud again. … We have to find ways to duplicate this on the road."

Saint Louis (3-4), which also got 10 points from senior guard Tommie Liddell III, has played much better at home than on the road. After beating Missouri-St. Louis in its season opener, the Billikens lost a close game against Kent State and beat Boston College at Chaifetz.

But the Billikens looked much different on the road, where they lost to Nebraska by 14 points, to Detroit by five and to regional rival Southern Illinois by 16.

"We came out and we hustled," SLU coach Rick Majerus said. "I thought the guys played hard. They gave a good effort. … The guys did a good job today. They were excited about playing. They shared the ball."

On Saturday night, the Billikens were able to turn defense into offense early on. After trailing 3-2, SLU reeled off nine consecutive points as part of a 19-2 run to take control of the game.

That impressive stretch included a Barry Eberhardt had a dunk in transition, two 3-pointers from freshman guard Ruben Cotto and an alley-oop dunk by freshman forward Willie Reed off a feed from Liddell.

Saint Louis led 28-13 at halftime.

After Savannah State (5-3) scored the first five points of the second half, to cut the deficit to 10, the Billikens responded with seven straight points from Lisch.

Saint Louis U. had an answer for everything the Tigers would throw at them.

The Billikens used a 13-0 run late in the second half — Lisch scored five points during that stretch and Liddell capped it off with a three-point play — to build a 31-point lead with 4 minutes and 53 seconds remaining.

Savannah State, which was undefeated at home but winless in its previous two road games, closed out the second half with a 14-1 run that figures to focal point for the team's next practice.

"We played poorly the last four minutes," Majerus said. "… Monday they will be shocked to see how those last four minutes negated the first 36 minutes."

Savannah State, which got 17 points from senior guard Raye Bailey, made just 31.3 percent of its field goal attempts (15 of 48), which is a season-low for a Saint Louis opponent. The Tigers made 30.8 percent of their 3-point attempts (four of 13) and 42.9 percent of their free throw attempts (three of seven) and turned the ball over 19 times.

Saint Louis shot 41.9 percent from the field (18 of 43), 35.7 percent from 3-point range (five of 14) and 66.7 percent from the free throw line (14 of 21). The Billikens had 16 assists on their 18 field goals, but also had 16 turnovers.

After Lisch and Liddell, the next highest scorer was Reed, who made his first career start and finished with seven points, four rebounds and two blocked shots. Eberhardt, a senior forward, tied a career-high with nine rebounds. Cotto and freshman point guard Kwamain Mitchell each had two steals.

The Billikens return to action on Saturday when they host Samford in a 4 p.m. game at Chaifetz Arena.

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