Bonnies and Billikens do battle in A-10 action

Jan 15, 2014 - 3:56 PM St. Louis, MO ( - The Saint Louis Billikens finally find themselves in the national rankings, and they will host the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in an Atlantic 10 Conference clash at Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday night.

Although they are not in contention for the Top-25, the Bonnies have enjoyed a fair amount of success this season, notching 11 wins in 16 chances. However, they were set down in a 73-68 decision against 16th-ranked Massachusetts last time out, ending a four-game win streak. St. Bonaventure will be at home for its next two games against league foes George Washington and La Salle.

A 67-59 road win over Dayton last Saturday finally got the now 24th-ranked Billikens the respect they probably deserved much earlier in the campaign. Saint Louis is currently 15-2 overall, with road victories in its first two league contests. The two wins extended a nine-game win streak for the Billikens, who are 8-1 at home, with the only loss coming against fifth-ranked Wichita State.

Saint Louis visited the Bonnies in the only matchup between the two teams last season, and came away with a 67-57 victory. It was the third win in the last four meetings for the Billikens, who lead the all-time series by a 10-4 margin.

Turnovers and sloppy play on defense kept the Bonnies from pulling off an upset against UMass. St. Bonaventure turned the ball over 20 times and committed 25 personal fouls, which led to a 32-16 disparity in free-throw attempts. Charlon Kloof turned in 15 points and seven assists, but also had six turnovers and four fouls.

Leading scorer Matthew Wright (15.9 ppg, 3.5 apg) was held in check by the Minutemen as he finished with only eight points. The effort ended a three-game streak in double figures for Wright, who has actually had more games below 10 points (four) than above (three) in the last seven bouts. Kloof (12.7 ppg, 4.7 apg) is the second-leading scorer, although he clearly has the ability to carry the load when need be. Additionally, he is a skilled passer, ranking third in the A-10 in assists. Andell Cumberbatch (11.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) is the final member of the team averaging in double figures, while Youssou Ndoye (9.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg) makes his presence felt as an enforcer in the paint.

Dwayne Evans recorded 22 points on 9-of-11 from the floor, and he also collected nine rebounds to help lift Saint Louis over Dayton. The Billikens were doubled up in points off turnovers (18-9), but they shot 46 percent from the floor, while holding the Flyers to just 30.6 percent.

Defending is what Jim Crews' team does best. The Billikens are ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (57.6 ppg) and 10th in assists allowed per game (9.1 apg). They have also broken into the top-25 nationally in opponent field goal percentage (.386). Evans (15.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) does the heavy lifting at the offensive end, for a team scoring just 70.4 ppg, which ranks 10th in the A-10. Jordair Jett (11.8 ppg, 4.8 apg) does his best to fill the basket, but he is more dangerous as a passer, ranking second in the conference in assists. Jett finished with 12 points and five assists against Dayton.

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