The Billikens entered Hagan Arena tonight owners of a 14-game win streak, largely in part to their defense, and made it clear early that their defense would be how they planned to beat the Hawks.
Controlling the paint, Saint Louis finished the half on a 16-3 run to head to the locker room up 35-20. A dominant defensive team, the Billikens absolutely shut down the Hawks, especially in the paint, where Saint Joseph's managed just 4 points in the half.
Struggling to make shots, to the tune of 27.3 percent from the field in the half, the Hawks were kept in the game early due to decent free throw shooting, something that this Saint Joseph's squad has rarely seen.
The Hawks would close to within single digits at 47-38 with 9:45 remaining in the game, but Saint Louis would start to pull away from there. Continuing to leave little breathing room for Saint Joseph's to run their offense, Saint Louis turned the game into a blowout, leading by as much as 19 down the stretch, before winning 65-49.
"It's challenging," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said of the Saint Louis defense. "I thought we had a way. A lot of times we end up with not real good quality shots. I thought the quality of shots was fine, but the crispness in offense, and I've been saying that for the last couple games, we've lost our rhythm here."
Ronald Roberts would be the only Saint Joseph's player to reach double digit points in the loss, as he scored 19 for the Hawks, while grabbing 9 rebounds as well.
Rob Loe (no, not that Rob Lowe), led the Billikens in the victory, scoring 17 points, while Jordair Jett scored 10. It would be the Billikens' defense that would be the difference-maker however, as the Hawks were held to a season-low 49 points.
"Basically we lined it up and they were better at each position. Their bench was better than our bench," said Martelli. "At every position, they were better and we have to take that individually. We have to process it and then come back tomorrow and improve."
Martelli will need to have his squad to have a short memory, as the Hawks will be tested again Saturday, when they welcome another tough defensive team, VCU, to Hagan Arena.
By: Kyle Babcock
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