ST. LOUIS – Hasahn French scored a career- and game-high 25 points, and Saint Louis held off a furious Massachusetts rally to post a 65-62 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over the Minutemen Wednesday night at Chaifetz Arena.
Saint Louis lifted its records to 11-4 overall and 2-0 in the Atlantic 10 with its third consecutive victory. UMass, which dropped its third straight decision, slipped to 7-8, 0-2.
French notched a season-high nine field goals (9-of-14) and a career-high seven free throws (7-of-10). He matched his career best of three steals (game high), had a game-high three blocks and added six rebounds.
Tramaine Isabell Jr. tallied 17 points, including 12 in the second half. Isabell Jr. led all players with a season-high seven assists and led the Billikens with a season-high-tying seven rebounds.
Fred Thatch Jr. equaled his career high of five rebounds to help SLU top UMass 35-31 on the boards. His career-high four offensive caroms helped the Billikens – who totaled 15 offensive rebounds – outscore the Minutemen 17-7 in second-chance points.
UMass was led by Luwane Pipkins (18 points), Rashaan Holloway (12 points, six rebounds), Carl Pierre (10 points) and Samba Diallo (nine points, game-high 12 rebounds
The Bills committed only eight turnovers while forcing 18 UMass miscues, leading to a 21-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
Saint Louis led by seven at intermission and stretched the margin to 11 twice, the second time a 43-32 lead with 15:10 to play.
UMass chipped away, outscoring SLU 18-8 over the next seven minutes, and it was 51-50 Billikens with 8:13 left.
The Minutemen missed a chance to take the lead when Thatch Jr. rebounded a Billiken miss and Isabell Jr. fed French for a dunk that made it 53-50.
Saint Louis pushed the lead to 60-53 with 4:02 remaining, but UMass closed to within a point twice in the final two minutes. The Minutemen had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Pipkins’ long 3-point attempt in the closing seconds was off the mark.
UMass scored the first six points and led 10-6 when Saint Louis found its offensive rhythm. The Billikens put together a 15-5 run, including six points from French – who tallied 12 in the opening stanza – and five from Javon Bess, for a 21-15 lead at the 8:51 mark.
Diallo had five points in a 7-0 spurt that put UMass back on top momentarily, 22-21, with 6:08 left. But Saint Louis closed the half with an 11-3 flurry that featured scoring from four different players, and the Billikens carried a 32-25 edge to the locker room.
Up next for the Billikens is a trip to Philadelphia to take on La Salle Saturday, Jan. 12. Tip time is 5 p.m. (Central), and the game will be televised by NBC Sports Network.