Bess scores career-high 24 points to lead Billikens over Oregon State 65-61
ST. LOUIS — Javon Bess didn’t even look at the numbers.
The Saint Louis University guard knew he was coming off one of the worst performances of his career in a five-point loss to Southern Illinois on Wednesday.
Three days later, Bess more than made up for it.
The 6-foot-6 inch guard poured in a career-high 24 points as Saint Louis narrowly defeated Oregon State 65-61 on Sunday.
Fred Thatch Jr. had 16 points for Saint Louis (7-2). Carte’Are Gordon added 11 points off the bench.
Ethan Thompson led Oregon State (6-2) with 22 points, one short of his career best. He also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Tres Tinkle had 15 points and 10 boards. Stephen Thompson Jr. added 10 points.
Bess hit on 9 of 16 shots from the field and made three key 3-pointers against the Beavers. He missed nine of 10 shots in the Billikens loss earlier in the week.
“I don’t worry too much about numbers,” said Bess, who has been nursing a sore ankle. “I got to practice and just tried to regroup.”
“He continues to amazing me with what he does,” Saint Louis coach Travis Ford said. “He totally changed the game.”
Bess also led a strong defensive charge that limited Oregon State to 9-of-27 shooting in the second half.
“With me and (Bess) going at the same time, it’s going to be tough for teams to score,” Thatch said.
The Billikens closed the game on a 15-8 run over the final 5:46. Bess scored eight of those points including a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 62-56.
Thatch, a freshman, also hit a big shot down the stretch. His fallaway 3-pointer at the 30-second buzzer gave the hosts some breathing room at 60-56.
Thatch was making his first start of the season, replacing Tramaine Isabell Jr. who is out with a leg injury.
“This is a process for me,” Thatch said. “Playing a lot more helped. I could play through my mistakes and not be timid.”
Oregon State rallied from a 12-point deficit early in the second half to take a 53-50 lead on a basket by Stephen Thompson with 6:21 remaining.
“The second half we challenged our guys to get together and do something,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “It came down to a couple loose balls that they got and we didn’t.”
Oregon State: The Beavers are without center Gligorije Rakocevic, who is out with a stress fracture. He is expected to miss at least four more weeks. Oregon State was hoping to equal its best start since 1986-87 when it won seven of its first eight games. The Beavers bench managed just eight points and didn’t get its first basket until Warren Washington scored 9:09 into the second half.
Saint Louis: The Billikens were picked to win the Atlantic 10 Conference title by a vote of coaches and media. They garnered 15 of 26 first-place votes and will open conference play Jan. 6 at home against Rhode Island.
Gordon did not start for the first time this season. He came in off the bench after 5:49.
SLOW START, BIG FINISH
Saint Louis missed its first seven shots and fell behind 6-0. It made 21 of its next 43 including a 10-for-22 effort in the second half.
Oregon State: Will host Texas A&M on Saturday.
St. Louis: Will travel to unbeaten Houston on Sunday.