Lisch Leads SLU To OT Victory

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis senior guard Kevin Lisch led five Billikens in double figures with 21 points as SLU upended Duquesne 78-74 in overtime Wednesday in a key Atlantic 10 men's basketball showdown at Chaifetz Arena.

With the win, the Billikens improved to 13-9 overall and 4-4 in the A-10. Duquesne, which came into tonight's game second in the A-10 in scoring and off to its best start since the 1980-81 campaign, dips to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the league.

Lisch's 21 points came on 6-of-15 shooting and included four 3-pointers and six points in overtime. Tommie Liddell III added 13 points, while Willie Reed threw in 12. Kwamain Mitchell and Barry Eberhardt added 10 points apiece as the Billikens featured five double-digit scorers for the first time since early in the 2006-07 campaign.

Also on the night, Liddell collected a team-high seven rebounds and moved into the top 10 on SLU's career list in that category. He now has 691 boards in his career, replacing Rich Niemann ('65-68) for 10th on the all-time list.

The win was big, but it did not come easy. After opening up to a 62-54 lead with 2:30 remaining in regulation, Duquesne went on a 7-0 run and had the ball down by two with the shot clock turned off. Following a timeout, the Dukes put the ball in the hands of its top scorer, Aaron Jackson. He was guarded heavily, and was forced to dish off to Bill Clark in the right corner, who threw up a desperation ball with five seconds remaining.

Eberhardt collected the rebound and was fouled immediately, but he missed the two free throws on the other end. On the ensuing possession, Jackson ran up the floor, and connected on a jumper with a defender in his face and his feet on the arc to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, the second of the season for both teams, Lisch opened the scoring with an NBA-range 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down. However, the Dukes' Jason Duty answered with a 3-pointer of his own to even the score at 66-66.

SLU's Willie Reed and Lisch each went 2-for-2 at the charity strip to put SLU up 72-68 with just over a minute left in overtime, but Jackson banked in a running layup to pull Duquesne back to within two at 72-70.

That remained the score when the Dukes again had possession at the end of the overtime period. With a .8-second differential between the game clock and shot clock, Duquesne put up a three that was off the mark, but the Bills were whistled for an over-the-back call, which gave Jackson two free throws. He converted one to make it 72-71 with 15 seconds remaining.

With the ball on the next possession, Lisch was fouled immediately. He made his first foul shot, but missed the second. However, Reed corralled the offensive rebound, put it back and drew a foul. He converted the three-point play to give SLU a 76-71 lead with less than 10 seconds to go.

Sticking with the theme of the night, Duquesne didn't fold and clawed back. Eric Evans drilled a late 3-pointer on the other end to pull the Dukes to back within two in the final seconds, but Kwamain Mitchell buried two free throws on the other end to seal the 78-74 victory for SLU.

The lead changed hands several times early on, with Liddell putting SLU on the board early with a pair of mid-range jumpers. An Eberhardt reverse lay-in and a jumper by Paul Eckerle put SLU on top 8-6 with 15:11 remaining in the first half.

Meanwhile, Duquesne scored its first 10 points on buckets in the paint, and pulled to within three points with 13:24 left on a Jackson layup. But the Billikens would respond with 3-pointers from Lisch and Eckerle to open up a 19-10 advantage, and a Barry Eberhardt layin with 9:44 remaining gave the Bills an eight-point lead at 22-14.

Duquesne, which came into the contest averaging 95 ppg in its three conference road games, quickly got back into the game with a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-ball out of the hands of Eric Evans.

The lead went back-and-forth the rest of the half, and a late 3-pointer by Clark sent Duquesne into the break with a 33-30 lead. Duquesne hit 58 percent of its shots in the first half compared to 44 percent by Saint Louis. SLU forced six Duquesne turnovers in a first stanza that featured seven lead changes and eight ties.

The Billikens yielded an early traditional three-point play to start the second session, but scored their next nine points on 3-pointers. Lisch started the rally with his second trey of the game, and Cassity followed with a 3-pointer from the right side. Liddell capped the spurt with a long three with the shot clock winding down to put SLU on top 39-38 at the first media timeout of the second half.

But just as they did in the first half, the teams played neck-and-neck with the lead changing several times. Buckets by Cassity and Liddell gave the Billikens leads, but Duquesne had an answer on its next possession. Willie Reed converted a three-point play to put SLU up 46-44, but Duquesne responded with a traditional three-point play of its own to go up one at 47-46 with 12 minutes left in the game.

The Billikens then went on a 7-0 run. Lisch ignited the rally with a 3-pointer and Mitchell converted a running lay-in off the glass. Eberhardt nailed a nine-footer to put SLU up 53-48 with roughly 7:30 remaining in the game.

Mitchell and Reed combined to hit five of six free throws over the next several minutes to keep SLU on top, but Duquesne's Damian Saunders' two free throws slimed the Dukes' deficit to just four at 58-54 with 3:30 to go in regulation.

SLU regained a comfortable eight-point lead when Mitchell connected on a floater and Liddell layed in a runner to put SLU up 62-54 at the three minute mark. But a resilient Duquesne team came back with two free throws and a traditional three-point play to pull within three at 62-59, ultimately leading to the thrilling final minute of regulation and the overtime.

The Billikens return to action this Sunday when they travel to Richmond. Game time against the Spiders is set for 1 p.m. and may be viewed in St. Louis on KPLR-CW11.

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