Saint Louis tops URI in A-10 opener, 60-53

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ST. LOUIS – Javon Bess matched his career scoring high with 24 points as Saint Louis registered a 60-53 win over Rhode Island Sunday at Chaifetz Arena in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both teams. 

SLU moves to 10-4 overall (1-0 A-10) and remains unbeaten at Chaifetz Arena (9-0). Rhode Island falls to 7-6 and 0-1 in the league.

Bess led the Bills in scoring for the sixth-straight game. He shot 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. He was again strong defensively, helping to hold URI leading scorer Jeff Dowtin to just two field goals.

Tramaine Isabell Jr. scored 13 points and dished out a team-high five assists, while Hasahn French posted his second-straight double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

It was the first win for the Billikens against Rhode Island since the 2013-14 season, a span of five games. Additionally, the SLU win snapped URI’s five-game winning streak at Chaifetz Arena.

It was a quick pace at the start as the Billikens jumped out to an 11-4 lead. URI climbed back in the game and led briefly late in half. The teams went into the locker room tied at 25-25.

Bess took over in the second half, scoring 16 of his 24 points in the second session. 

SLU, however, had to come from behind. A 6-0 Rhody run gave the Rams a six-point lead at 43-37 with 12:10 remaining, forcing SLU to take a timeout. Out of the break, Bess made the next two Billiken field goals. Then, a French dunk at 9:04 gave SLU a 46-45 advantage and it would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way. 

KC Hankton was fouled on a 3-pointer and made the ensuing free throw to give SLU a five-point lead with 8:37 remaining. URI pulled to within a basket on the next possession, but Bess scored the next four Billiken points and SLU held on for the victory.

Saint Louis returns to action Wednesday night when it takes on UMass at Chaifetz Arena on CBS Sports Network. Tip time is 8 p.m. (CT)

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