Billikens edged by UMass, 60-56

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ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis erased a nine-point second half deficit and had a shot to win it late, but fell 60-56 against UMass Saturday in a thrilling Atlantic 10 Conference game at Chaifetz Arena.

It was the fourth loss in a row for the Billikens, who fall to 9-12 overall and 1-7 in league play. UMass improves to 12-9 overall and 5-3 in the A-10.

The Billikens had the ball down by two with the shot clock off. Freshman center Austin Gillmann had a 3-pointer that would have given the Billikens the lead, but the shot was just off the mark. UMass corralled the rebound and scored on the other end at the buzzer to secure the 60-56 victory.

Sophomore guard Mike Crawford led the Billikens with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers. He was also 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. His five field goals tied a career high.

Freshman forward Milik Yarbrough scored nine points, gathered seven boards and dished out three assists. Gillmann scored eight points, one off of his career high, while freshman guard Davell Roby turned in seven points for the Bills.

In a first half that saw four ties and seven lead changes, UMass went on a late 9-0 run and carried a 30-27 lead into the break.

The teams exchanged baskets to start the second half before the Billikens went on a 7-0 run, punctuated by a Gillmann 3-pointer, to take the lead at 37-34 with 16:44 left.

But the Minutemen responded with a run of their own, scoring the next 10 points to build a lead it would not relinquish.

The Billikens were able to claw back to set up the opportunity to win with the last shot. Roby and Crawford combined to score the last nine Billiken points, and Crawford’s two free throws with less than a minute left pulled the Bills within two. UMass missed a jumper and Reggie Agbeko grabbed the rebound to set up the final play.

Saint Louis is back at it on Tuesday when it hosts Saint Joseph’s at Chaifetz Arena. Game time against the Hawks is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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