Liddell Fuels Billikens' Comeback Victory

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus must have had an interesting talk with his basketball team at halftime on Friday night as the Billikens trailed visiting North Carolina A&T by 14 points.

"He felt that we didn't come ready to play," senior guard Tommie Liddell said. "That's what it looked like. He wanted us to come out the second half and just ratchet up a little bit. We talked amongst ourselves as players and the coaches gave us some advice and we took it out on the floor."

Liddell scored 15 of his game-high 17 points in the second half as Saint Louis U. rallied for a 60-52 victory at Chaifetz Arena in the final non-conference game before the start of the Atlantic 10 Conference season.

"We came out the second half with the intent to play and the first half we didn't come out and we dug a deep hole and we didn't play with the passion that we played the second half," Majerus said. "I don't know why you'd be 18 years old or 20 years old and you've got such a short career, I don't know why you wouldn't want to come out and play."

Willie Reed (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Saint Louis (9-5) missed 20 of its first 23 shots as North Carolina A&T (5-8) led by as many as 18 in the first half. The Aggies made 13 of 30 shots (43.3 percent) in the half and led 35-21 at halftime behind Coleman's 10 points.

Saint Louis made just six of 28 shot attempts (21.4 percent) and only six of 11 free throw attempts (54.5 percent) in the first half and had 10 turnovers.

"I think that we were just kind of out of sync," Liddell said. "We had a lot of turnovers. Obviously their pressure bothered us a lot. We were just throwing the ball around. We were getting good shots and we couldn't make them. We weren't guarding that well. It just seemed like everything was going wrong for us."

The Billikens' 14-point halftime deficit was its largest deficit at halftime this season.

"They had a lot of energy going," SLU senior guard Kevin Lisch said. "They came out pretty crazy. They just kind of got themselves rolling and we didn't respond. But in the second half we were able to settle it down and take control. It was good for us."

The Billikens were able to come back to tie the score at 50-50 with 7 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the second half on freshman forward Willie Reed's three-point play after an assist from sophomore guard Paul Eckerle.

SLU then took the lead for the first time in the second half with 2:38 left when freshman forward Brian Conklin hit one of two free throws to put SLU ahead 53-52.

The Billikens closed out the game at the free throw line — after a rough first half at the charity stripe, SLU made eight of its final 10 free throws — as cold-shooting North Carolina A&T did not score in the final 6:57 of the game.

Saint Louis outscored North Carolina A&T 39-17 in the second half.

Reed scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Conklin had a game-high nine rebounds to go along with seven points. Conklin and Reed combined for nine of SLU's 15 offensive rebounds. Lisch scored nine points on three-of-13 shooting.

Liddell's basket with 16:20 left in the first half moved him past Joe Wiley into No. 10 on the school's all-time scoring list. Liddell entered the game trailing Wiley by one point. Wiley, who played from 1967 to 1970, had 1,368 points.

Lisch is eighth on the Saint Louis career scoring list with 1,431 points and needs just nine points to pass No. 7 Dick Boushka, who has 1,440 points.

The Billikens return to action on Thursday in their conference opener at Xavier.

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