Daily Egyptian

Salukis fall to Saint Louis in final non-conference road game

SIU+junior+guard+Armon+Fletcher%2C+left%2C+fights+past+Saint+Louis+University%27s+Jordan+Goodwin+Wednesday%2C+Dec.+6%2C+2017%2C+during+the+Salukis%27+69-74+loss+against+the+Billikens+at+Chaifetz+Arena+in+St.+Louis%2C+Missouri.+%28Brian+Mu%C3%B1oz+%7C+%40BrianMMunoz%29
SIU junior guard Armon Fletcher, left, fights past Saint Louis University's Jordan Goodwin Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, during the Salukis' 69-74 loss against the Billikens at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

SIU junior guard Armon Fletcher, left, fights past Saint Louis University's Jordan Goodwin Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, during the Salukis' 69-74 loss against the Billikens at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

SIU junior guard Armon Fletcher, left, fights past Saint Louis University's Jordan Goodwin Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, during the Salukis' 69-74 loss against the Billikens at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Nathan Dodd

In the previous two seasons, the SIU men’s basketball team picked up two victories over Saint Louis University.

On Wednesday night, that streak came to an end as SIU fell to the Billikens (5-4) in Saint Louis 74-69.

“You have to give credit to Saint Louis,” SIU head coach Barry Hinson said. “I think they did a great job and outplayed us physically.”

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As time wound down, Southern lost a key component of their attack as junior center Kavion Pippen fouled out with 3:25 left to play and the game tied at 63 each. He finished the night with 10 points and five rebounds.

“That was the key to the game,” Hinson said. “We’re up five, Pippen fouls out and we were outscored 22-12 from that point on in an eight-minute period.”

On the next Saluki possession, junior guard Marcus Bartley committed a turnover that led to a fast-break dunk from freshman forward Hasahn French. The Billikens followed with a 3-pointer from Bess that earned them a 68-63 lead, their largest of the game which would stand to the conclusion of the contest.

Bartley, a transfer from SLU, made his debut for the Salukis after he battled his way back from a broken wrist suffered before the start of the season.

“I didn’t want to play Marcus in this game because of the expectations that would be put forward on him,” Hinson said. “I thought he played exceptionally well. I’m really excited that Marcus Bartley is back.”

Down 30-28, Bartley scored his first points of the season on a 3-pointer that jolted the Salukis ahead with just under two minutes remaining in the half.  He ended the game with 12 points and three assists in 23 minutes of action.

“He’s a really good player,” SLU head coach Travis Ford said of Bartley. “He’s going to be very good for them [SIU]. He’s got a great future and is going to help them win a lot of games.”

In the opening minutes of the game, the Salukis hit their first four shots and built a 9-6 lead.

After Southern extended its advantage to 18-9, the Billikens clicked on offense and went on a 5-0 run in less than two minutes.

The Salukis preserved their lead with buckets from Pippen and junior guard Armon Fletcher that increased the lead to 25-18.

SLU chipped away and tied the game at 25 on a dunk by French. Immediately after, sophomore forward Jalen Johnson knocked down two free throws that gave the Billikens their first lead of the contest.

Behind a 52-percent field goal percentage, the Salukis took a 36-32 advantage into the half.

In the second half, Southern maintained its lead until a jumper from senior guard Aaron Hines gave the Billikens a 43-42 advantage.

The teams traded leads for much of the second half and neither squad mounted a significant scoring run.

With five minutes left to play, the Billikens got a 3-pointer from junior guard/forward Javon Bess that tied the game at 61 points each.

Nearly one minute later, French went to the free-throw line for SLU and converted one of his two attempts. The conversion at the line gave the Billikens a one-point advantage with less than four minutes remaining.

After SLU built their five-point lead, senior forward Jonathan Wiley missed both of his free throw attempts that could have pulled the game back to a one-possession gap which may have been the dagger for the Salukis.

Wiley — who led the team with 19 points — redeemed himself a few possessions later as he sank a jumper that cut the SLU lead to 68-66 with only 39 seconds left to play.

The Billikens capitalized at the free-throw line that iced the game at 74-69.

SIU (4-3) will be back in action on Dec. 9 at SIU Arena where they will matchup against Southeast Missouri State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We definitely needed this one and we let it slip away in the end,” Bartley said. “We just have to get better from it.”

Sports editor Nathan Dodd can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NathanMDodd.

To stay up to date with all your SIU sports news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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