ORLANDO, Fla. – Saint Louis held Louisville to 16 points below its season scoring average Saturday, but a second-half surge propelled the Cardinals to a 66-51 victory over the Billikens in an NCAA Tournament third-round game at the Amway Center.
SLU, the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region, concludes the season 27-7, tying for the second-most wins in program history. Louisville, the No. 4 seed and defending national champion, advances to next week’s Midwest Regional in Indianapolis with a 31-5 mark.
SLU trailed by 11 points late in the first half, but a 15-2 spurt covering parts of both halves propelled the Billikens into a 29-27 lead with 14:15 remaining. In fact, the Bills held the Cardinals without a field goal for the first six minutes of the second stanza.
Jordair Jett began the second-half portion of the run with a drive. Rob Loe made two free throws, Dwayne Evans drove the lane for a basket and Jett hit a short shot off the glass to trim the UL lead to 27-24.
A three-point play by Evans tied it at 27, and Loe’s fast-break layup put the Billikens on top.
However, Louisville scored on its next four possessions to grab a 35-31 lead. Saint Louis stayed within striking distance with layups by Evans, Tanner Lancona and Loe and trailed 41-37 at the 10:20 mark.
But an 11-2 spurt extended the Louisville lead to 52-39 with 4:50 remaining, and the Billikens cut the margin to single digits just once more the rest of the way.
SLU and Louisville combined for seven scoreless possessions out of the gate before Evans’ dunk gave the Billikens their only first-half lead.
After the teams traded turnovers, Luke Hancock sank a 3-pointer, two free throws and another trey, then fed Mangok Mathiang for an alley-oop dunk and a 10-4 Louisville advantage.
The Cardinals managed just two free throws against the Saint Louis defense on their next nine possessions, but a John Manning dunk provided the only Billiken points during that stretch.
A bucket by Jett and an Evans free throw on consecutive possessions narrowed the Louisville lead to 14-9, and it was 16-11 after Hancock and Mike McCall Jr. traded baskets.
Louisville expanded the margin to double figures, 23-12, with a 7-1 run. Manning made two free throws, and Evans took a long pass on a baseline out-of-bounds and tallied a layup to trim the Louisville lead to 25-16 at halftime.
SLU outscored Louisville 40-26 in the paint but went 0-for-15 from 3-point range. The Billikens shot 39.6 percent from the floor overall.
The Cardinals’ 66 points tied their second-lowest output of the season.
Evans registered his 26th career double-double with team highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds, and he tied for game-high honors with three steals.
Jett scored 15 points and tallied a game-high-tying seven assists. Loe, who was saddled with three first-half fouls, had 10 points and five rebounds, while Manning collected four rebounds to tie his career high.Hancock scored a game-high 21 points, and Russ Smith and Chris Jones netted 11 apiece. Montrezl Harrell posted 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, Stephan Van Treese grabbed eight boards and Smith recorded seven assists.