Colonials and Billikens mix it up in A-10 action
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked Saint Louis Billikens will try to keep their impressive winning streak alive when they host the George Washington Colonials in an Atlantic 10 Conference tussle at Chaifetz Arena.
Saint Louis has won 18 straight games entering this contest, although the last three have not come easily. The Billikens survived for an 89-85 overtime victory over George Mason on Wednesday, marking their third straight contest decided by four points or less. Still, good teams find ways to win and Saint Louis has done just that, with a perfect 11-0 mark in league play and an overall record of 24-2. The Billikens will host Duquesne in their next outing.
George Washington posted an impressive road victory over Richmond on Wednesday night (73-65), earning its 20th win of the campaign. It is the first time the Colonials (20-5) have had 20 wins in a season since the 2006-07 campaign, which was also the last time they got an invite to the NCAA Tournament. At 8-4 in league play, they still have an outside shot at the A-10 crown, with their next contest coming against George Mason.
This is the first and only scheduled meeting of the season between these two squads. Saint Louis has won back-to-back duels with the Colonials, evening the all-time series at 5-5.
Maurice Creek scored 16 points to lead five players in double figures for George Washington in its win over Richmond. The Colonials only shot 40.4 percent from the floor, but they dominated the inside, claiming a 45-33 edge on the glass, while forcing their way to the free-throw line 31 times, compared to only 14 chances for the Spiders.
The Colonials' offensive load is often well-balanced, with five different players averaging double figures for the squad. Creek (14.1 ppg) is the top option, having scored in double figures in four straight contests. However, some of the team's depth has been absent of late, with Kethan Savage out with a fractured left foot since late January. Isaiah Armwood (12.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Patricio Garino (11.9 ppg) and Kevin Larsen (11.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) give the Colonials options in Savage's absence, especially Armwood, who also makes time to rank fourth in the A-10 in rebounding.
Jordair Jett scored 25 points and handed out eight assists in helping lead Saint Louis to its narrow win over George Mason. After struggling to shoot just 38.5 percent in the first half, the Billikens managed to get past the Patriots by sinking a sizzling 64.2 percent after the break, including a perfect 5-of-5 performance in overtime.
Scoring 89 points is rarely a necessity for Saint Louis, which is a good thing considering the Billikens are only netting 71.3 ppg. They really haven't needed to score very much due to their intense defensive pressure, which ranks the team in the top-25 nationally in scoring defense (59.9 ppg), assists allowed (9.8 apg), and opponent field goal percentage (.394). Dwayne Evans (14.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Jett (13.7 ppg, 5 apg) are the leaders of the group. Evans connects on 50 percent of his shots from the field, with Jett keeping pace, despite playing from the backcourt, by netting 48.6 percent. Rob Loe (10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) provides some added depth.