Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

AMAZING RALLY; Incredible Comeback Lifts SLU to OT Victory

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

AMAZING RALLY; Incredible Comeback Lifts SLU to OT Victory

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, FLA. * If there was one consensus in the St. Louis University locker room late on Thursday night, it was this: No one had ever seen anything like it.

Down 16 with eight minutes to play, down 14 with five minutes to play, down eight with 90 seconds to play, the Billikens somehow managed to battle back to tie the game, send it to overtime, and, with two starters, including all-conference forward Dwayne Evans, having fouled out, somehow managed to defeat North Carolina State, 83-80, in overtime at the Amway Center.

"Oh my God," guard Mike McCall said in the jubilant SLU locker room after the game. "That's probably one of the most amazing games I've played in. To be down 16 and fight back. That's what we do, we fight. We were together the whole game, no matter what the lead was. We were fighting the whole game."

With help from an improvised press SLU had pressed just once all season, briefly against Wisconsin and had never practiced it and woeful free throw shooting from North Carolina State that exceeded even the Billikens' adventures at the line, SLU (27-6) moves on to face either Louisville or Manhattan on Saturday. Even if SLU's season ends there, the game on Thursday night is one that will live forever in SLU annals.

"We never gave up," guard Jordair Jett said. "We just kept fighting and got the win."

Just about everyone who stepped on the court for SLU played a pivotal role in the outcome. Rob Loe had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Jett had 18 points after having just one in the first half. McCall had 12 points, six rebounds and six assists. Grandy Glaze forced a turnover in the press and scored to cut N.C. State's lead to three with 1:15 to play. Tanner Lancona saved a wayward inbound pass in overtime and then made a free throw to put SLU up by two. Jake Barnett headlined an effective defense on N.C. State star T.J. Warren, who still managed to score 28 points.

SLU won despite making just 12 of 26 free throws, a number that would be glaring if N.C. State didn't shoot 14 for 29 at the line in the second half to let SLU back in the game. SLU shot better on 3- pointers (50 percent) and 2-pointers (47.8) than it did at the free throw line (46.2). SLU scored 44 points in the final 13 minutes of the game, an amazing run for a team for whom points have come grudgingly.

"That's probably the weirdest turn of events I've ever been part of," Loe said. "We just didn't want to give up. We didn't want to end on that kind of note. We didn't want to bow out of the tournament this early. We wanted to win. We're here to win and we're here to put our mark on basketball. We just wanted to keep fighting."

"It's heartbreaking," said N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried. "We're always going to feel like we let one slip away."

SLU's comeback was almost in slow motion thanks to the missed free throws. …

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