Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Billikens Hang on to Beat George Washington

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Billikens Hang on to Beat George Washington

Article excerpt

Looking into his players' eyes as they approached the bench for a media timeout Saturday night, St. Louis University coach Travis Ford recognized a familiar sign of trouble.

It was the same fatigued look the Billikens had with about eight minutes remaining at Dayton last week in a game that saw them falter down the stretch.

They were clinging to a five-point lead over George Washington this time with just under eight minutes left at Chaifetz Arena.

"I told my coaches, 'I've got to talk them out of this,'" Ford said.

Something worked.

SLU fought off one George Washington charge after another to pull out a 62-53 victory as Ford continued to squeeze the most out of a seven-player rotation.

"We found our second wind," Ford said. "Actually, I don't know if our team has a second wind. We're just fighting through fatigue. I tell them to scratch and claw. When they feel like they're tired, just find something. Just hold on."

The win allowed SLU to regain sole possession of fourth place in the Atlantic 10 with one road game and one home game remaining in the regular season.

The Billikens (9-7 in the A-10, 16-13 overall) led for the final 28 minutes but needed a catalyst to keep them going. That turned out to be freshman Hasahn French, who scored all of his 16 points in the second half to complement Jalen Johnson's game-high 20 points.

Four Billikens played at least 36 minutes and Ford continued to rely essentially on six.

A sign in the student section Saturday night portrayed what remains of the SLU roster dressed in Western wear under the heading "The Magnificent Seven."

The Billikens were making their first appearance at Chaifetz as a seven-man outfit while trying to continue to add wins even as their personnel has dwindled.

Having returned home, it reached the point in pre-game warmups that SLU's eight managers outmanned the team's remaining scholarship players after a Title IX investigation cost them four bodies.

"We just make sure to take care of our bodies and to prepare right," French said. "We know we have to step up and play more, give more to the team. ... We have a real tight-knit group and we stick together no matter what. …

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