Saint Louis registered its second-highest point total of the season (87 vs. Southeast Missouri State) and improved to 10-2 with its fourth consecutive win. Indiana State saw its winning streak halted at four, slipping to 7-3.
Evans set career highs in free throws made and attempted while also establishing an Atlantic 10 Conference season best for free throws made. He tied the A-10 season high for attempts.
The senior forward moved into 17th place on the Saint Louis career scoring chart with 1,209 points. His seven rebounds, part of the Bills’ 34-22 advantage on the glass, pushed him into fifth place on the SLU career chart with 784 boards.
Austin McBroom had 15 points, the most he has scored as a Billiken, on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range and a 6-of-6 effort from the foul line. McBroom also dished out a career-high six assists.
Rob Loe was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and matched McBroom with 15 points. Loe tied his season high and led all players with nine rebounds, and he collected a game-high and career-high-tying three blocks.
Jordair Jett tossed in 12 points to go with game highs of seven assists and three steals. He also excelled on the defensive end, forcing ISU leading scorer Jake Odum into seven turnovers.
Indiana State got 16 points from Manny Arop and 12 points apiece from Justin Gant and Khristian Smith.
Evans’ performance at the foul line propelled SLU to season highs in free throws made and attempted (27-of-34). The Bills were 21-of-26 in the second half and scored 21 of their last 34 points from the stripe.
In addition to their prolific free throw display, the Billikens shot 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from the floor in the second half. That included a 6-of-10 showing from beyond the arc, part of a season-high 10 treys (10-of-25) for the game.
“I’m really pleased, our guys did a great job,” head coach Jim Crews said. “We’ve got all the respect in the world for Indiana State – they’re tough kids, and they compete.
“I thought our guys stayed with it,” Crews said. “Earlier in the year, we took shots maybe a little quick. In the first half we weren’t hitting shots, but they were the right shots. We tried to encourage the guys to just keep taking the shots.”
“It was a great win, obviously the best win of the year,” Evans said. “I think we played well throughout the entire game.
“We really shut down everything they were trying to do. It kind of came down to them making one-on-one plays. We still have things to clean up, but I think we played well on defense.”
Saint Louis scored on its first four second-half possessions to stretch a seven-point halftime lead to 10. Jett drove for a basket and put back an offensive rebound, and Loe followed with a layup and a trey for a 43-33 Billiken advantage.
Three-point plays by Gant and Devonte Brown on consecutive possessions allowed Indiana State to trim the lead to 43-39. McBroom and Mike McCall Jr. connected on 3-pointers to re-establish a double-digit margin, 49-39, but the lead was cut in half on Smith’s three-point play and Arop’s driving bucket.
The Sycamores would draw no closer, however, and SLU began the free throw clinic on its next possession with two successful tosses by Evans. That began a stretch during which the Billikens scored 11 of 13 points from the stripe, expanding the lead to 62-49.
Treys by McBroom and Jake Barnett made it 68-54, and the Billikens went on to lead by 19 before settling for the final margin.
Indiana State led 2-0 on an Arop jumper, but that was the only time Saint Louis trailed. Treys by Jett and McCall Jr. and another Jett bucket put the Billikens in front 8-2.
After ISU cut the lead to 8-6, Saint Louis used a 15-6 run to establish its largest first-half cushion, 23-12. Evans tallied six of the 15 points, and four additional Billikens chipped in a basket apiece.
The Sycamores responded with a 15-4 flurry of their own, including Arop’s eight points, to knot the score at 27. But Evans netted both ends of a 1-and-1 and a jumper, and Loe drained a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to put the Billikens on top 34-27 at the break.
“It’s execution at the end of the half,” Loe said. “We always work on it in practice – the game situations. We executed really well down the stretch and at the end of the half. It was a good shot and it really hurt them, I think.”The Bills host North Carolina A&T Saturday, Dec. 21, at 3 p.m. in their final game before the Christmas break.