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Desirae Ball scored a career-high 22 points.
Courtesy: Saint Louis Athletics

Ball Powers Billikens to Rout of Xavier

Courtesy: Saint Louis Athletics
          Release: 01/31/2013
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CINCINNATI - Desirae Ball enjoyed a career night in her hometown, and Saint Louis ended more than two decades of futility against Xavier with a 66-49 Atlantic 10 Conference victory Thursday night at Cintas Center.

The Billikens (9-12, 3-3 A-10) snapped a 14-game losing streak to Xavier (6-14, 0-6 A-10), defeating the Musketeers for the first time since Feb. 20, 1988, when the teams were members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

For an eighth time this season, and third time in A-10 play, the Billikens held their opponent to fewer than 50 points. In addition, SLU won on the road for a fifth time this year, the most road victories since the 2008-09 team finished with five.


The Bills established season highs for points and 3-point field goal percentage (8-of-13, .615) and tied their season bests for field goals (24) and 3-point field goals.

 

Ball scored a career- and game-high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, a performance that included a career-high four 3-pointers (4-of-5). She added three assists and a game-high four steals.

Jacy Bradley netted 10 points, all in the second half, and Halee Castleman tied her career high with nine points while grabbing seven rebounds and distributing three assists. Lorreal Jones narrowly missed a third consecutive double-double with eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Jones tacked on three assists and two steals.

Mallory Eggert registered four rebounds to move into 10th place on SLU's career rebounding list. Eggert has 614 career caroms.

Shatyra Hawkes and Ashley Wanninger scored 12 points apiece for Xavier, which lost its eighth straight decision. Hawkes added a game-high four assists.

The Billikens shot a sizzling 63.6 percent (14-of-22) from the floor in the second half and finished at 52.2 percent (24-of-46) for the game, their best mark in a conference game this season. SLU dominated the boards by a 32-16 count - its second-largest margin overall and largest advantage in A-10 play this year - and limited Xavier to three offensive rebounds. The Bills outscored the Musketeers 15-4 in second-chance points.

"I am so proud of our team's effort tonight," head coach Lisa Stone said. "The players followed the game plan to a T. We played great defense, especially in the paint, and had terrific offensive execution.

"Desirae Ball was outstanding, along with Jacy Bradley, in a return to their home area," Stone said. "The team effort was awesome. I'm so very happy for our players."

A Wanninger trey on Xavier's initial second-half possession gave the Musketeers a 32-28 lead. After Eggert gathered an offensive rebound and made a layup, Xavier led 34-30 on a Jessica Pachko bucket.

Ball hit a trey from the right wing and followed with a short baseline pull-up jumper to put the Bills on top 35-34. Wanninger put Xavier ahead with a baseline jumper, but Bradley's pull-up jumper in the lane gave SLU the lead for good, 37-36.

Ball connected twice from beyond the arc, Denisha Womack made two free throws and Bradley hit a runner on four consecutive possessions. Xavier also scored on four straight touches, however, and the Billikens lead was just 47-44 with 10:36 remaining.

However, SLU began hitting on all cylinders on both ends of the floor and quickly took command with a 10-0 flurry. Courtney Webb sparked the run with a long 2-pointer, and Eggert and Ball followed with layups. Jones turned an offensive rebound into a layup and followed with a spinner in the lane for a 57-44 lead.

Hawkes finally stopped the Xavier drought with a layup. But Bradley swished three free throws after being fouled on a shot from beyond the arc - giving Saint Louis points for a 10th time in 12 possessions - and it was 60-46 at the 5:51 mark.

The Bills led 66-46 before a late Xavier 3-pointer accounted for the final score. SLU outscored XU 19-5 over the last 9:38, holding the Musketeers scoreless on 13 of their final 15 possessions.

After Briana Glover's 3-point gave Xavier a 13-12 lead, Saint Louis used an 8-2 spurt to grab a 20-15 advantage. Womack started the run with a 15-foot jumper, and Jones corralled an offensive rebound and turned it into a layup. Castleman sank two free throws, followed by Webb's baseline drive.

The Musketeers then rattled off a 14-5 run to go on top 29-25, but Castleman's second 3-pointer of the half narrowed the gap to 29-28 at intermission.

The Billikens return to action Thursday, Feb. 7, at home against Massachusetts. Tip time at Chaifetz Arena is 8 p.m., and the game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

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