Bradley Scores 23, Bills Hold Off Evansville 63-59
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Jacy Bradley scored a game-high and team-season-high 23 points, and Saint Louis overcame a late Evansville charge to defeat the Purple Aces 63-59 Sunday afternoon at the Ford Center.
The win was the third road victory of the year for the Billikens (5-5), who last won three road games in a season during the 2009-10 campaign. Saint Louis produced just three road wins in the past two seasons combined.
"I'm happy for our players and very proud of the way they finished the game when the momentum shifted in Evansville's favor," head coach Lisa Stone said. "They held their composure, continued to play solid defense as they did the entire game, and hung on.
"Instead of playing not to lose, our team played to win," Stone said. "They're starting to believe they can win, and that's exciting."
Bradley's scoring effort was just two points shy of her career high. She was 8-of-13 from the floor overall, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 from the foul line. The senior guard tied her career high and tied for team-high honors with eight rebounds, and she added a game-high six assists.
Lorreal Jones had 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Saint Louis, which established a season scoring high. Courtney Webb tossed in 12 points, Desirae Ball chipped in six points, four assists and a game-high three steals, and Mallory Eggert grabbed six rebounds.
Khristian Hart was 6-of-14 from beyond the arc and led Evansville (2-7) with 20 points and four assists. Samantha Heck contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, Meagan Collins had 13 points and five boards, and Chelsea Falkenstein grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Juliann Miller added nine points and four assists.
SLU out-rebounded Evansville 38-33, making it eight of 10 games this season the Billikens have won the battle on the glass. The Bills shot 42.9 percent from the field to the Aces' 37.9 percent and committed a season-low eight turnovers.
"Jacy Bradley played one of her best games of the season, Desirae Ball did a good defensive job again, and Courtney Webb hit some big shots down the stretch," Stone said. "When Eggert and Jones got into foul trouble, I thought we protected them by playing good team defense against Evansville's offensive sets.
"From a coaching standpoint, we have a lot of positive things we can continue to emphasize in practice," Stone said. "Our players are realizing more and more that when they take care of the ball and defend, good things happen."
Saint Louis led by 13 at halftime and turned away an Evansville challenge early in the second half. When the Aces narrowed the margin to seven, the Bills put together a 12-4 run to take their largest lead, 50-35, at the 8:48 mark.
Bradley ignited the outburst with a 3-pointer from the right wing, and Ball followed with a fast-break layup. After Webb connected on a jumper and Bradley sank two free throws, Halee Castleman buried a trey from the left wing to conclude the run and put SLU up by 15.
But Hart hit 3-pointers from the top of the key on UE's next two possessions to spark a 22-7 flurry that tied the game at 57. Heck, Collins and Miller each connected from beyond the arc during the run, and Hart drained another triple for the tying points with 1:30 to play.
However, the Billikens regained control by going 5-of-6 from the free-throw line over their next three possessions. Meanwhile, Evansville committed a turnover, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and missed a field goal attempt during that stretch.
Heck's layup made it 62-59 with five seconds left, but a Castleman free throw secured the Billikens' fifth win in seven games since beginning the season 0-3.
Saint Louis scored on its first possession and led throughout the first half. Bradley scored 11 points, tying her previous season high, as the Billikens built their first 10-point lead, 17-7, with 11:29 remaining in the first half.
Hart buried 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to narrow the gap to 17-13, but Evansville twice missed a chance to cut deeper into the SLU lead.
The Billikens took advantage with a 13-4 flurry in which five different players scored. When Bradley nailed her second trey of the half to punctuate the run, Saint Louis owned a 30-17 cushion en route to a 34-21 halftime lead.Following a break for final exams, the Billikens host Memphis Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 4 p.m.