Big second half propels Saint Louis to 74-65 victory

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ST. LOUIS  Javon Bess led four Billikens in double-figures with 19 points as Saint Louis rallied in the second half to beat North Carolina Central 74-65 Wednesday night at Chaifetz Arena.

SLU improves to 8-3 overall, while NC Central dips to 4-9.

Bess, who has led the Bills in scoring in each of the last three games, buried a career-high four 3-pointers to help account for his 19 points. Bess also grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists.

Jordan Goodwin chipped in 16 points, a career-high six steals and five assists. Carte’Are Gordon and Tramaine Isabell Jr. scored 10 points apiece for the Billikens.

SLU forced NC Central into 24 turnovers, including 15 in the second half when the Billikens employed a press that caused the Eagles fits.

The Billikens trailed by five at halftime and were down by 11 early in the second half, but SLU responded by shooting 55.9 percent from the field in the second half to spark the comeback victory.

Hasahan French and Goodwin had back-to-back dunks as part of a 14-2 Billikens run, capped by a Gordon three-point play that gave SLU a 45-44 lead with 13:26 remaining. D.J. Foreman’s layup kicked off a 16-0 Billikens run, while the Eagles went scoreless for three minutes and the Billikens pulled ahead 61-46 with 9:24 left in the game.

The Eagles did not go down quietly. They rallied for a 13-2 run and closed to 63-59, but the Bills responded with a 6-0 rally and NC Central was unable to close the gap in the final five minutes.

Saint Louis returns to action on Saturday afternoon when it takes on No. 11 Florida State in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida. Game time is 1:30 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised on FS2 and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.

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