KANSAS CITY - Lorreal Jones scored 18 points, just one point shy of her career best, but UMKC rallied for a 56-53 victory Thursday night at Swinney Recreation Center.
Jones was 8-of-10 from the floor, part of the Billikens' 22-of-40 effort (55 percent) on the evening. Desirae Ball scored 12 points, Courtney Webb tallied 10 and Mallory Eggert added eight for Saint Louis (0-2).
Jacy Bradley and Ball registered career highs in assists with seven (game high) and five, respectively. The Bills earned a 31-17 advantage on the boards, with Webb and Bradley tying for game-high honors with five rebounds apiece.
Eilise O'Connor scored a game-high 23 points and collected five rebounds for UMKC (2-1). The Kangaroos countered SLU's hot field goal shooting by outscoring the Billikens 14-4 (14-of-16) from the foul line.
Saint Louis was hampered by 23 turnovers while UMKC committed just seven miscues. The Kangaroos registered an 18-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
"I'm disappointed, because I really believed this was a game we could get," head coach Lisa Stone said. "When you outrebound a team by 14 and shoot 55 percent, generally you win. The reason we lost the game is the turnovers. We beat ourselves, and they capitalized on the opportunities we gave them.
"We didn't take care of the ball, we didn't value the ball the way we need to, and it hurt us," Stone said. "But we can correct that. We have to cut our turnovers to 15 or fewer to put ourselves in a position to be successful.
"Their point guard (O'Connor) was a handful for us, and they went to the free-throw line several more times than we did because they were a little more aggressive," Stone said. "But I think we made some strides defensively. We're getting there. We did better defensively tonight than we did against Missouri.
"Another bright spot is that we had 17 assists for 22 field goals, which means we shared the ball a little bit better," Stone said. "Also, I thought Lorreal Jones worked her tail off inside offensively and did a good job."
O'Connor's 3-pointer on UMKC's initial second-half possession gave the Kangaroos their first lead, 28-27. The lead changed hands four more times before Saint Louis scored on six consecutive possessions in a 14-5 flurry that seemed to give the Billikens command.
Webb ignited the run with a 3-pointer that made it 34-34. Jones followed with two free throws and a driving layup for a 38-34 SLU advantage.
Lexis Hardiek's trey momentarily slowed the Bills' momentum, but Webb responded with a triple of her own. Bradley made a steal and fed Webb for a fast-break layup, and Jones answered Taylor Leathers' basket with a layup for a 45-39 Saint Louis cushion.
The Bills wasted a chance to expand the lead, and UMKC took advantage with a 10-2 outburst that put the Kangaroos in front 49-47. After Ball's layup tied it at 49, UMKC scored the next four points for a 53-49 edge.
But Eggert made a layup, and, following several empty possessions by both teams, Webb tied it with a fast-break layup. Hailey Houser sank the back end of a two-shot foul to give UMKC a 54-53 lead.
Having committed just two team fouls in the second half to that point, UMKC fouled three times to slow SLU's trip up the floor. The Billikens finally managed to attack the basket, but the Kangaroos regained possession on a held ball. O'Connor buried two free throws with two seconds left for the final margin.
The Billikens jumped out to an 8-2 lead on 3-pointers by Bradley and Ball sandwiched around Jones' jumper in the lane.
After UMKC narrowed the lead to 8-6 on a bucket and two free throws by O'Connor, SLU re-established a six-point advantage on two Eggert free throws and Jones' layup.
The Kangaroos made it 14-13 with a 7-2 run and pulled to within a point three more times in the first half, but the Billikens did not relinquish the lead. A 14-foot jumper by Jones and Ball's short baseline jumper put SLU on top 27-22 before Emile Blakesley's trey in the waning seconds trimmed the Saint Louis lead to 27-25 at the break.The Billikens travel to Norman, Okla., to take on 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sunday, Nov. 18. Tip time is 2 p.m.