Billikens Top Charlotte, Advance to A-10 Quarterfinals
PHILADELPHIA - Courtney Webb scored a game-high 19 points to lead Saint Louis to a 64-59 victory over Charlotte Friday night in a first-round game of the 2012 Buick Atlantic 10 Conference Women's Basketball Championship at Saint Joseph's University's Hagan Arena.
The victory - SLU's first A-10 tournament win since the 2006-07 season - propels the 11th-seeded Billikens into Saturday's quarterfinals. Saint Louis (11-19) will take on third-seeded Dayton, which received a first-round bye, at 6:30 p.m. (CT). Sixth-seeded Charlotte fell to 16-13.
Mallory Eggert scored 12 points for Saint Louis, while Janisha Gearlds and Desirae Ball tallied eight apiece. Morgan Johnson and Lorreal Jones netted seven and six points, respectively, in the second half. Gearlds chalked up four assists, and Kim Bee had three blocks.
The Billikens earned a 45-37 rebounding advantage, including a 23-12 edge on the offensive glass. Charlotte had out-rebounded SLU in both regular-season meetings. Jones and Bee led the way with seven apiece, while Eggert and Webb had six each.
In addition, the Bills scored 28 points off 18 Charlotte turnovers.
Hillary Sigmon was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and led Charlotte with 16 points. Ny Hammonds scored 11 points to go with a game-high five assists, while Jennifer Hailey collected 10 points and game highs of 12 rebounds and four blocks.
The Billikens led 30-25 at intermission and expanded the lead to seven early in the second half. Charlotte began to chip away and forged a 41-41 tie when Sigmon drilled 3-pointers on two consecutive possessions.
However, Saint Louis responded right away with Gearlds' runner off the glass and an Eggert layup for a 45-41 advantage. Jai Forney's baseline jumper made it a two-point game.
After Charlotte missed a chance to tie or take the lead, Webb gathered an offensive rebound and turned it into a three-point play for a 48-43 SLU lead. Epiphany Woodson hit a bank shot in the lane, but Webb sank two free throws and Jones sank a left-wing jumper to put SLU on top 52-45.
The 49ers used a four-point possession to narrow the gap to 52-49, but the Billikens answered again. Johnson buried a trey from the right wing, and Eggert's free throw made it 56-49.
Jones responded to a Sigmon 3-pointer with a layup, and Gearlds answered another Sigmon triple with a jumper from the left elbow. Sigmon hit a runner and then a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound, and the Bills' lead was reduced to 60-59 with 22 seconds left.
However, Webb netted two free throws, and Gearlds did the same following a Charlotte turnover, and the Billikens were into the quarterfinals.
Saint Louis fell behind 6-2 but fashioned a 12-3 run to surge in front. An Eggert layup and Webb's long 2-pointer tied the game. After Woodson's 3-pointer gave Charlotte a 9-6 lead, the Billikens got a 14-footer from Ball, a Webb trey, an Eggert free throw and Webb's jumper from the left corner to claim a 14-9 advantage.
Charlotte later used a 6-0 spurt to take a 21-20 edge, and the lead changed hands twice more before SLU took the first-half lead for good, 24-23, on Bee's short bank shot. That was the start of an 8-2 run that gave the Billikens a 30-25 halftime cushion.