Early Runs in Both Halves Power SLU Past Vermont, 62-43
ST. LOUIS - Saint Louis began the second half with a 13-2 run and cruised to a 62-43 victory over Vermont Wednesday night at Chaifetz Arena.
Kwamain Mitchell hit a 3-pointer with 11:40 remaining in the second half that lifted him above the 1,000-point mark for his career, making him the 25th Billiken to reach the milestone.
In addition, Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus recorded his 499th career victory.
Mitchell was one of four Billikens to score 10 points, joining Brian Conklin, Dwayne Evans and Cody Ellis. Evans added a game-high 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, for his first double-double of the season and sixth of his career.
Ellis and Conklin added six and five rebounds, respectively, while Kyle Cassity tallied a game-high four assists for SLU (8-1).
Saint Louis cooled to a 37.5-percent shooting clip in the second half, but 60.9 percent accuracy in the first 20 minutes allowed the Billikens to finish the game at 48.9 percent, including 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from 3-point distance. Vermont shot 50 percent in the first half, then slipped to 25 percent after the break to finish at 36.4 percent.
The Bills outrebounded the Catamounts 33-26.
Vermont (4-5) of the America East Conference got a game-high 13 points from Luke Apfeld and 12 points from Matt Glass. Pat Bergmann collected eight rebounds.
Leading 34-27 at halftime, SLU scored on its first three possessions of the second half. Cassity knocked down a foul-line jumper, and Evans rang up his second 3-pointer of the game. Following a Vermont basket, Evans gathered a Saint Louis miss and scored to make it 41-29.
The Billiken defense then took over, forcing eight straight empty possessions by the Catamounts. Meanwhile, Rob Loe sank a baseline jumper, Mike McCall Jr. made a fast-break layup and Ellis swished two free throws for a 47-29 Billiken lead, and the rout was on.
Mitchell's landmark 3-pointer made it 50-31, and the Bills increased the advantage to 25 before settling for the final 19-point margin.
The Billikens made their first four and 12 of their first 15 shots in building a 14-point first-half cushion. Baskets by Evans and Mitchell gave SLU a 4-3 lead, and Conklin followed with a layup, a baseline jumper and a dunk to make it 10-5 Saint Louis.
The Bills finally came up empty on their sixth possession but bounced back with a 10-0 run to stretch their lead to 20-7. McCall Jr. and Cory Remekun hit jumpers, and Ellis and Mitchell buried 3-pointers to finish the spurt.
Buckets by Vermont's Brendan Bald on consecutive possessions slowed SLU's momentum a bit. But Ellis banged home a baseline jumper, Evans drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing and Conklin banked in an 8-footer to give the Billikens a 27-13 advantage.
However, the Bills went just 2-of-8 and committed eight of their nine first-half turnovers the rest of the period, and Apfeld scored seven points in a 9-0 Vermont run that sliced the Saint Louis lead to 27-22.
A Cassity trey and Mitchell's fast-break layup put the lead back to double digits at 32-22. Bald's spinning bank shot and a Glass 3-pointer made it 32-27 Saint Louis with 2:56 remaining. Two Conklin free throws were all either team could muster the rest of the half, and SLU carried a seven-point lead into intermission.
The Billikens continue their six-game homestand Saturday, Dec. 10, hosting Illinois-Springfield at 1 p.m.