ST. LOUIS - Despite a career-high 23 points by Saint Louis junior guard Courtney Webb, the Billikens dropped a tight 70-67 decision against UMKC Tuesday in non-conference women's basketball action at Chaifetz Arena.
Webb's 23 points came on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line. Lorreal Jones chipped in 17 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds. Desirae Ball had 10 points and three assists for the Billikens, who dip to 4-8.
The game came down to the wire. Despite seeing deficits of eight at 4:31 left and six at 2:02 remaining in the contest, the Billikens pulled to within one in the waning minutes of play thanks to consecutive baskets by Webb. Her jumper at 1:16 made it 65-63, and after a UMKC free throw Webb later made it 66-65.
Down one, the Billikens fouled with 29 seconds remaining, and UMKC's Hall-Jones managed to hit one of two free throws. The Billikens turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, then quickly fouled sending Hall-Jones to the line once more. She again hit one of two, giving the Billikens the ball down three at 68-63 with 23 seconds remaining.
Webb hit a runner off the glass to again pull the Billikens within one with less than 10 seconds left. The Billikens again fouled, and this time Hall-Jones hit them both to keep the UMKC lead at three. Morgan Johnson's off-balanced 3-point attempt at the horn bounced off the iron, and UMKC escaped with a 70-67 victory.
The Billikens were down by 12 early in the second half before manufacturing a spirited 11-1 run to get back into the contest. Jones and Mallory Eggert started the rally, and Jones hit back-to-back baskets to make it 38-33. Janisha Gearlds converted a traditional 3-point play, and Jones buried a free throw to make it a one-point game at 38-37 with 15:30 left.
After UMKC's Jade Tinner scored, the Billikens answered with baskets by Ball and Jones to give the Billikens their first lead of the second half, 41-40, with 14:01 remaining.
UMKC would go on a 6-0 run to regain the lead, and the Billikens were not able to grab a lead the rest of the way despite tying the score on three occasions. Webb's two free throws at 10:54 tied it at 46-all, a Jenna Mueller jumper at 10:07 tied it at 48-all and two Johnson free throws tied it at 52-all.
The lead changed hands several times at the onset before SLU went on an 8-2 run to lead 12-8 at the 13:40 mark. The rally was sparked by a Webb jumper, and capped by a Webb 3-pointer. Ball hit a free throw and layed one off the glass in the rally.
However, UMKC answered with a run of its own, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to go up 18-14 with 7:40 to go. Webb's basket briefly cut the Billiken deficit to two, but a quick 6-0 spurt by UMKC put the Kangaroos ahead 24-16.
Ball hit a triple as the shot clock expired to make it a 24-21 game at 3:43, but the Kangaroos would go on a 6-2 run to close out the half, making it 30-23 Kangaroos at the break.
The Billikens return to action Thursday, Dec. 29, when they travel to the Delta Dental Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle to face Eastern Michigan. SLU will play either Seattle of St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday.