Courtesy of SLUBillikens.com
ST. LOUIS – A furious late rally came up a bit short as Richmond held on for an 84-81 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Saint Louis Wednesday night at Chaifetz Arena.
The Billikens slipped to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the A-10. Richmond, which snapped a four-game skid, improved to 8-13, 2-6.
Trailing 78-67 at the 2:32 mark following a 13-2 Richmond run, Saint Louis resorted to full-court pressure to get back in the game.
Two free throws by Javon Bess, who scored a career- and game-high 31 points, sparked a 14-4 flurry that sliced the Richmond lead to 82-81 with 18 seconds left. Seven of the 14 points in the run followed Richmond turnovers.
Richmond leading scorer Jacob Gilyard (24 points) missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 15 seconds to play, but SLU could not capitalize on the ensuing possession. Gilyard was fouled again, and this time he made both ends of a 1-and-1 to put the Spiders ahead 84-81.
SLU’s 3-point attempt to tie was off the mark and went out of bounds with 1.2 seconds remaining. However, Bess stole the inbounds pass near midcourt and launched a potential game-tying attempt, but the shot was just off the mark.
After Saint Louis established an 8-4 edge, Richmond scored five straight points to take its first lead at 9-8. Four lead changes followed, and two free throws gave the Spiders the first-half upper hand for good, 13-12.
The free throws began a 17-7 run that put Richmond on top 28-19. Bess buried a pair of triples in an 8-2 spurt that narrowed the gap to three, 30-27, but the Spiders responded by gradually building their largest first-half cushion, 42-32, with 2:41 remaining.
Treys by Bess and Dion Wiley were part of an 8-2 run that trimmed the Richmond lead to 44-40. A late Gilyard 3-pointer put the Spiders in front 47-40 at the break.
The Billikens tallied the first seven points of the second half to forge a 47-47 deadlock, and the score was knotted again at 49 and 51.
Richmond used a 10-3 run to build a 61-54 lead with 11:26 left, but Bess scored seven points and K.C. Hankton added four in an 11-4 spurt that created a 65-all stalemate at the 7:07 mark.
Richmond began its 13-2 run after Hankton collected an offensive rebound and scored to tie it at 65, setting the stage for the Billikens’ late surge.
Bess connected on a career-high 10 field goals, including a career-high-tying five 3-pointers. He was 6-of-7 from the foul line and added four rebounds and three steals.
Hasahn French turned in his seventh double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing a game-high and season-high-tying 12 rebounds to go with three blocks. Hankton registered career highs of 11 points and six rebounds, while D.J. Foreman matched his season best of seven rebounds while netting eight points.
SLU’s 38-26 edge on the boards included 21 offensive rebounds, led by French’s seven. The Billikens equaled their season high of 12 steals.
Gilyard’s 24 points included a 4-of-7 effort from the arc. He added six rebounds and three steals. Grant Golden had 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Nathan Cayo posted 21 points and four assists.
Richmond shot 57.7 percent overall and 43.8 percent from 3-point range, both season bests in A-10 play. The Spiders were a season-best 17-of-18 (94.4 percent) from the free throw line.
Up next for the Billikens is a trip to Rhode Island to meet the Rams Saturday, Feb. 2. Tip time is 3 p.m. (CST), and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.