DES MOINES, Iowa - Drake opened the second half with a 10-0 run and held off Saint Louis to earn a 61-55 victory Friday night at the Knapp Center.
The Bulldogs (4-6) shot 54.2 percent in the second half, connecting on 13-of-24 overall and 4-of-10 from 3-point range.
Saint Louis, which fell to 5-7, earned a 36-22 rebounding advantage but was victimized by 22 turnovers.
Lorreal Jones scored a game-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and tied Mallory Eggert for game-high honors with seven rebounds. Eggert grabbed a season-high six offensive boards and Jones added four, powering the Billikens to a 13-2 edge on the offensive glass.
Courtney Webb and Desirae Ball tallied 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Bills, who shot 43.4 percent from the field overall but just 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from 3-point range. Jacy Bradley contributed eight points and three assists. Eggert made a game-high four steals.
Drake got 13 points from Morgan Reid and 12 points and six rebounds from Carly Grenfell. Kyndal Clark had 10 points, four assists and three steals, while Alyssa Marschner recorded a game-high seven assists and three steals. Stephanie Running and Ashley Bartow scored nine and eight points, respectively.
SLU held a three-point halftime lead but failed to score on its first seven second-half possessions. Drake took advantage by outscoring the Billikens 10-0, including treys by Clark and Grenfell, to take a 32-25 lead.
Webb nailed two 3-pointers to jump start the Saint Louis offense, but Mary Pat Specht hit a triple and drove the baseline for a layup, and it was 37-31 Drake.
However, the Billikens quickly tied it. Jenna Mueller sank the first of two free throws, and when she missed the second, Jones gathered the rebound and made a layup. Ball followed with a steal and a layup, and a Jones free throw made it 37-all.
The teams had two empty possessions apiece before Clark restored the Drake lead with a 3-pointer. Reid's layup made it 42-37, but consecutive jumpers by Jones pulled SLU to within a point, 42-41.
Running's three-point play gave the Bulldogs a four-point edge. After the Billikens twice narrowed the gap to two points - on two Jones free throws and Bradley's 12-foot jumper - Grenfell netted two free throws and hit a baseline jumper to extend the Drake lead to 51-45.
Bradley's jumper from just in front of the foul line and Ball's pull-up in the lane made it a two-point game again, and SLU had a chance to tie or take the lead following a Drake turnover. But the Bills turned it over themselves, and Reid's layup made it 53-49 with 2:51 left.
The Billikens scored on three straight possessions with a Bradley 17-footer, Ball's drive down the lane and Webb's short bank shot. But Drake answered each time with two Reid free throws, Clark's running scoop shot off the glass and two Bartow free throws.
Trailing 59-55, SLU missed a 3-point attempt with 14 seconds to play. Marschner's pair from the stripe with six seconds left secured the win for the Bulldogs.
Saint Louis held early leads of 2-0 and 6-5, but Drake led for most of the first half. The Bulldogs' largest advantage was 18-13 with 9:19 remaining.
After the Billikens pulled to within a point on baskets by Eggert and Jones, both teams hit the wall on offense until Reid drove for a layup to put Drake on top 20-17 at the 3:50 mark. Denisha Womack sank two free throws, and Reid answered with a jumper for a 22-19 Bulldog lead.
But SLU turned up the defensive pressure and held Drake scoreless for the final 3:11 of the period. Meanwhile, layups by Ball and Womack and an 18-foot jumper by Bradley put the Billikens in front 25-22 at intermission.The Billikens return to action Saturday, Dec. 29, when they host Northern Iowa at Chaifetz Arena. Game time is 2 p.m.