Saint Louis comes up short from long range
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Saint Louis did something it hasn’t done all season Saturday – and it proved costly against defending national champion Louisville.
The Billikens went 0 for 15 from 3-point range in a 66-51 loss in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
They shot long, came up short, missed to both sides and even had a couple blocked. It was easily the team’s worst long-ranging shooting performance of the season.
Saint Louis, a 32-percent shooting team from behind the arc this season, had made at least two 3s in every game and had 190 total. They hit 9 of 18 treys in Thursday’s come-from-behind, overtime victory against North Carolina State.
”I thought we took a lot of good shots today,” said forward Dwayne Evans, who led the way with 16 points but missed his only 3-point attempt. ”They weren’t falling, but we had the right guys in the right spots.”
Saint Louis (27-7) shot 40 percent from the field.
Mike McCall Jr. missed all six of his 3-pointers. Jake Barnett (0-4), Jordair Jett (0-2), Rob Loe (0-1) and Austin McBroom (0-1) also misfired from that distance.
”We’re going to keep taking shots if they’re good shots,” coach Jim Crews said. ”We don’t have a plan before a game to say, `OK, we’re going to take X number of 3s in this game and that game.’ We don’t do that because I think that you’ve got to have a balance to be really good.”
The champs had a lot to do with Saint Louis’ struggles.
Louisville (31-5) mixed defenses repeatedly, using man-to-man, the 2-3 zone and even a little 1-1-3 to make sure no Billikens could get open looks from the corners.
”We wanted to smother the 3,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. ”This team reminds me of Colorado State last year: Extremely well coached in all phases of the game. And we felt if we gave up the 3 we could get beat tonight, so we will take that away.”
It worked to perfection.
Louisville made six treys. Luke Hancock, who finished with 21 points, drained two 3s midway through the second half that helped the Cardinals create some cushion in a tight game.
Saint Louis just couldn’t answer.
The Cardinals have the size and athleticism to close out on the 3-point line, and it showed Saturday.
Making matters worse for the Billikens, they had 18 turnovers. Louisville had nine steals to go with five blocks.
”They’re very good defensively,” Crews said. ”They change things up. They do press and they play zone and have different shifts and so forth, and they mix it up with man. They keep you a little bit off balance with that, which is a good thing because basketball is a rhythmic game and they keep you out of rhythm with it.”