Balanced Saint Louis throttles Duquesne
Five Billikens scored in double figures, including 13 points and 10 rebounds from Dwayne Evans, as Saint Louis steamrolled Duquesne 68-41 Saturday night at Chaifetz Arena.
"It is big for us," Saint Louis assistant coach Chris Harriman said. "We don't have too many guys averaging high numbers, but having the quality of depth in terms of having multiple guys who can score really helps us. To have that spread was great.
"That is a good team. They (Duquesne) are going to do well in our league and to beat them by 27 was a great job."
Kyle Cassity (10), Brian Conklin (11), Mike McCall Jr. (11) and Kwamain Mitchell (10) joined Evans as the Billikens in double figures. Saint Louis shot 47.1% on the night going 24-51 from the field.
SLU held the Dukes to season lows in points (41), second-half points (15), field goals (17) and field goal percentage (30.9%) en route to their eighth 20+ point victory of the season.
Duquesne was coming off a win against UMass where they forced a season-high 29 turnovers, so keeping control of the pace of the game while protecting the ball was a major point of emphasis for Saint Louis.
"They are a team that runs better off makes than they do off misses, and run great off turnovers," Harriman said. "After watching their game against UMass where they scored off 29 turnovers, it was like a track meet. To limit turnovers was one of our goals. With the pace of the game, 9 turnovers was a good number for us tonight."
Eric Evans paced the Dukes (12-8, 3-3) with 12 points while Mamadou Datt chipped in with eight points and seven rebounds.
SLU jumped out to an early 16-4 lead to begin the game, benefitting from scoring on seven of their first eight possessions.
T.J. McConnell's 3-pointer midway through the first half capped a 9-0 run and gave Duquesne their only lead of the game at 20-19 while also prompting SLU coach Rick Majerus to call a timeout. The Billikens responded with an 18-6 run to finish the half and take a 37-26 lead into halftime.
Kyle Cassity tallied seven of his 10 points in the first half, showing more aggression and willingness to shoot than in previous games.
"A lot of people don't realize that when he is on the floor, our offense is better," Harriman said. "He doesn't necessarily have to score, things are just smoother. He understands what we are trying to do and is an extension of coach on the floor.
"Offensively we need to be at threat and are better when he is a threat, but we are also just better having him on the floor."
It was only the fourth time all season Cassity reached double figures, the last was against Portland on December 3, 2011.
"I took shots when they came to me and they went in," Cassity said. "It's the first time I've hit a three in quite some time. I will keep taking them like I normally do."
Next up for the Billikens is a trip to Cincinnati to square off against the Xavier Musketeers.
"We have a big week," Harriman said. "We want the guys to enjoy these wins because they don't come easy. But we now will get ready for Xavier. We are going to get their best shot."