Billikens Oust UMass, Capture A-10 Title Outright
AMHERST, Mass. – Saint Louis senior guard Jordair Jett’s game-winning layup in the final seconds propelled the Billikens to a 64-62 victory at UMass Sunday in the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season finale.
With the win, the Billikens (26-5, 13-3 A-10) clinched the A-10 regular-season title outright for the second season in a row. SLU will be the No. 1 seed at next week’s A-10 Championship in Brooklyn, with its first game being Friday at 11 a.m. (CT) at Barclays Center.
“I couldn’t be happier for these guys – what they have done is extraordinary, winning the A-10 regular season last year, then the A-10 Championship, and now this today,” SLU head coach Jim Crews said. “We had guys make big plays throughout game today. We had good options there on the last play. Everyone did their part.”
Jett finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field. Senior forward Dwayne Evans registered 14 points, while senior guard Mike McCall Jr. posted 12 points, including a big 3-pointer late in the game.
Senior forward Rob Loe scored eight points and finished with a team-high seven assists. Junior forward John Manning had eight points, the most he has scored since registering nine points against Wofford on Dec. 14.
On Sunday against UMass, the Billikens never led in the second half until the final seconds. The Minutemen had their largest lead of the game at 56-49 with 5:48 before the Billikens went to work. Loe sparked a 7-0 rally with a layup, and McCall followed with a clutch 3-pointer to make it 56-54 with 4:45 left. Evans tied the score with a basket underneath to make it 56-56 with 3:16 left.
UMass scored the next two baskets to go up four, but SLU answered with an Evans bucket and two Jett free throws. UMass senior Chaz Williams and Jett would trade baskets to set up the tie game with less than a minute to play.
With 36 seconds left, Loe managed to grab a rebound after a block, and it was SLU possession after the held ball.
Jett had the ball just inside halfcourt on the right side, and drove for a lay in with less than three seconds left for the eventual game-winner.
UMass Williams’ had a look at the buzzer, but his half-court heave bounced off the front of the iron, and the Billikens escaped with the victory.
SLU raced out to a 9-2 lead at the start of the game on a layup by Evans, a jumper by McCall, trey by senior forward Jake Barnett and a dunk by Evans. But UMass responded with a 10-0 run to get back in it. The Minutemen finished the half on a 4-0 run to take a 35-33 lead into the break.