Billikens Win A-10 Opener, Oust VCU 60-46
ST. LOUIS - Lorreal Jones recorded her first double-double of the season, and Saint Louis held VCU to its lowest shooting percentage of the year in a 60-46 victory over the Rams in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener Saturday night at Chaifetz Arena.
The win was the first for the Billikens (7-9, 1-0 A-10) in a conference opener since the 2007-08 season.
Jones, returning to the court after missing three games due to a concussion, led Saint Louis with 14 points and 11 rebounds, including a game-high-tying four offensive boards. She added three assists.
Courtney Webb was 3-of-7 from 3-point range and scored 11 points while grabbing six rebounds. Mallory Eggert contributed 10 points, six rebounds and a career-high four assists.
Jacy Bradley tallied eight points, six rebounds and six assists and tied her career high with a game-high four steals. Desirae Ball chipped in eight points, a career-high seven rebounds and three assists.
Robyn Parks led VCU (7-9, 0-1 A-10) with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Rams earned a 51-45 advantage on the boards but shot just 25.7 percent from the floor, including 0-of-17 from 3-point range, in scoring their second-lowest point total of the season.
"After not playing well at Southeast Missouri State Wednesday night, we had a team meeting and talked about the undercurrent that might have been dragging us down," head coach Lisa Stone said. "Following that, we had two of our best practices of the year, and we were rewarded tonight by winning our A-10 opener. I'm very proud of our players for the way they handled all that transpired the last couple of days. They're growing as a team.
"It was a total team effort," Stone said. "Lorreal Jones returned to the floor and had a great game, and I thought Erika Cook gave us some key minutes when Courtney was in foul trouble.
"We were spot on defensively against a long, athletic VCU team. To take a team that averages 64 points and hold them to 46 takes a great defensive effort with energy and focus. That was something we talked about in terms of our identity."
VCU led 12-9 when Janniina Koivunen made a layup with 10:32 left in the first half. However, Saint Louis outscored VCU 21-8 the rest of the way to take a 30-20 advantage to the locker room.
Eight Billikens scored during the first half, led by Jones' eight points. Parks netted just two points for VCU before her second foul sent her to the bench for the final 12:46 of the period.
After Webb buried a 3-pointer on the Bills' initial second-half possession, Parks scored six points in an 8-0 VCU run that narrowed the SLU lead to 33-28 with 16:09 remaining.
But the Billikens answered with a 9-0 spurt to regain command. Jones ignited the run with two free throws, followed by Webb's fast-break layup. Eggert's layup put the margin back into double figures, 39-28, and Ball's trey punctuated the run and put Saint Louis on top 42-28 at the 14:29 mark.
SLU's largest lead of 51-36 occurred when Bradley connected from beyond the arc with 7:31 left. VCU drew to within nine points with 2:13 to go but came no closer.The Billikens are in Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne Wednesday, Jan. 16. Game time is 6 p.m. (CT).