Mitchell, Ellis Combine for 50; Billikens Fall to URI in Overtime
ST. LOUIS - Kwamain Mitchell scored a game-high and team-season-high 29 points and Cody Ellis tallied a career-high 21, but Rhode Island rallied late in overtime and defeated Saint Louis 82-80 Saturday night in an Atlantic 10 Conference game at Chaifetz Arena.
The Billikens slipped to 12-5 overall and 1-2 in the A-10, while Rhode Island improved to 6-10, 1-2.
Mitchell made a career-high seven 3-pointers (7-of-10), tying for second on the Billikens' all-time single-game list. He added a game- and season-high seven assists and a game- and career-high six steals.
Ellis' 6-of-9 shooting performance included a 4-of-6 effort from 3-point range. He also was 5-of-6 from the foul line.
Xavier Munford led Rhode Island, which snapped a two-game skid, with 24 points. Munford was 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and added four assists.
Andre Malone and Nikola Malesevic netted 14 points apiece, and Jordan Hare tossed in 10 points for the Rams, who shot 55.1 percent overall, 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from 3-point distance and 85.7 percent (18-of-21) from the free-throw line.
Malone and Hare collected nine rebounds apiece to lead Rhode Island to a 34-27 advantage on the boards. Malesevic led the Rams with five assists.
Trailing by three at halftime, Rhode Island scored on its first two possessions of the second half. Malesevic drove for a layup, and Munford's 3-pointer put the Rams in front 31-29.
That was the first of 19 lead changes that occurred in the second half and overtime. Neither team led by more than two points from that point until Mitchell's trey from the top of the key gave the Billikens a 62-59 edge.
URI immediately tied it on Mike Powell's 3-pointer, but Saint Louis grabbed a 65-62 lead on Ellis' three-point play - the fifth consecutive scoring possession for the Billikens. However, Munford connected from beyond the arc for the eighth tie of the second half and Rhody's seventh straight scoring possession.
Saint Louis missed a 3-point try but forced a turnover to earn a final attempt to win in regulation. The Billikens were unsuccessful, however, and the game went to overtime tied at 65.
Rhode Island quickly took the lead when Malone rebounded a miss and converted. SLU regained the advantage on Mike McCall Jr.'s triple from the left wing, and Dwayne Evans turned an offensive rebound into a bucket for a 70-67 Billiken lead.
Two Malone free throws were answered by Ellis' off-balance layup off a pass from Rob Loe. Powell sank two from the stripe, but Mitchell matched those with a pull-up 13-footer to put the Bills on top 74-71.
Malesevic buried a trey from the top of the key to tie it. Munford followed with a layup for the 19th and final lead change of the second half/overtime, and two more Powell free throws put the Rams in front 78-74.
After Ellis canned a 3-pointer with 21.5 seconds left to keep the Saint Louis hopes alive, Munford made two free throws for an 80-77 Rhode Island lead. The Rams fouled to prevent a 3-point attempt, but the front end of the 1-and-1 was off the mark.
Malone made it a two-possession game with two free throws, and Mitchell's 3-pointer with less than a second remaining accounted for the final score.
After Malesevic's 3-pointer gave Rhode Island its only lead of the first half at 5-4, Saint Louis went on a 10-2 run. Mitchell ignited the flurry with a steal and dunk, and Ellis followed with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Loe made a layup, and Mitchell's trey from the top of the key put the Billikens on top 14-7.
Munford nailed 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to narrow the SLU advantage to 16-13, but the Bills responded with an 8-2 spurt to take a 24-15 lead. Jake Barnett started the run with a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Loe tallied the next five points with a put-back of his own miss and a triple from the left wing.
SLU answered Munford's third 3-pointer of the half with a free throw by Jordair Jett and two more by Mitchell. Rhode Island finished the half with an 8-2 run - aided by a four-point possession following a Saint Louis flagrant foul - to trim the Billiken lead to 29-26 at the break.Saint Louis travels to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne Wednesday, Jan. 23. Tip time is 6 p.m. (CT).