Billikens Beat La Salle In A-10 Tourney

Atlantic City, N.J. — Freshman guard Kwamain Mitchell scored on a driving lay-up with two seconds left in overtime to boost the Saint Louis Billikens past La Salle 62-60 in the opening game of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament at Boardwalk Hall.

The No. 9 seeded Billikens advance to the quarterfinals to take on top seed Xavier at 11 a.m. (CT) on Thursday, March 12. The game will be televised live in St. Louis on Charter Communication's CCIN.

La Salle hit one free throw to take the lead in overtime, but Willie Reed tied the game with one charity toss. Brian Conklin converted two free throws to put the Billikens in the lead, but Kimmani Barrett sank a 3-pointer to put the Explorers back on top.

Conklin swished two more charity tosses to answer for SLU. Tommie Liddell III drilled two more from the line for a 58-56 Billiken margin. Rodney Green hit a floater to tie the game, then put La Salle up 60-58 with just over a minute left. Liddell tied the game when he hit a leaner in traffic with 43 seconds remaining.

The Billikens then forced a shot-clock violation and got the ball back with seven seconds to play to set up the game-winning sequence. Mitchell took the pass, drove down the right side of the lane and put a soft shot off the glass and in for the game-winning basket.

The Explorers scored the first six points of the game before a Tommie Liddell III jumper put the Billikens on the board. La Salle extended the lead to 10-2, and Kyle Cassity sank a 16-footer to get to 10-4.

The Billikens edged closer on back-to-back baskets by Willie Reed. Kevin Lisch got a runner in the lane to fall, and two free throws by Barry Eberhardt tied the game 16-16 with seven minutes left in the first half.

The Billikens finally took their first lead on a Kwamain Mitchell 3-pointer from the top of the key, 19-18. He converted a layup in transition for a 21-18 SLU margin with 5:42 left. La Salle retook the lead down the stretch, but a Lisch trey from the left wing just before the buzzer handed the Billikens a 26-24 at intermission.

Brian Conklin scored on SLU's first possession of the half to build their lead to four, 28-24. Mitchell scored three straight baskets to keep the Billikens in front, but La Salle trimmed the deficit to one 34-33 with just under 14 minutes left. Lisch scored on a drive, and a three-point play by Liddell pushed the Billikens on top 39-33 at the 10:33 mark.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by the Explorers cut the SLU lead to 41-39. Lisch tallied four straight, and a Mitchell trey built the Billiken lead to 48-41. La Salle answered with a 6-2 burst and trimmed the deficit to 50-47 with just over four minutes remaining.

Rodney Green's jumper from the left baseline tied the game at 52-52 with 1:45 left. Neither team scored again as the Billikens played their fourth overtime contest of the year.

Mitchell led the Billikens (18-13) with 18 points and dished out a career-high seven assists. He moved past Kevin Williams on the freshman assists record and now has 113 on the season.

Lisch added 11 points, while Reed and Conklin led the Billikens with seven rebounds apiece.

Rodney Green tallied 24 points to pace La Salle (18-13).

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