Having won 19 straight games No. 10 Saint Louis was well on its way to clinching a second consecutive Atlantic 10 regular season title, as they held a three-game lead on Saint Joseph’s entering Thursday’s home game against Duquesne. With a game at VCU on Saturday afternoon, the concern was that although Jim Crews’ rotation is full of veterans they could be caught looking ahead to that showdown.
Whether or not the Billikens were caught looking past the Dukes is up for debate, but either way Duquesne guard Micah Mason took advantage of the opportunity. Mason scored 22 points and dished out three assists to lead Jim Ferry’s team to the 71-64 upset win at Chaifetz Arena. Duquesne shot 55.6% from the field in the second half and received 24 points from its bench (19 from Jerry Jones) against Saint Louis, which didn’t look like the group that built a commanding lead in the Atlantic 10.
The Billikens have successfully navigated the perimeter shooting issues for much of this season, but that wasn’t the case against Duquesne as they shot 4-for-23 from beyond the arc. That SLU, which entered the game ranked eighth in the Atlantic 10 in three-point percentage (33.2%), would go through tough stretches shooting the basketball doesn’t come as a surprise although they have shot the ball better in conference play.
What did come as a surprise were the 16 turnovers committed by a team that ranks third in the conference in turnover margin and second in assist-to-turnover ratio. Nine of those turnovers were committed by seniors Jordair Jett (five) and Dwayne Evans II (four), and as a team the Billikens didn’t exhibit to sound decision-making that has factored into their climb up the national polls.
Saint Louis didn’t play its best basketball on Thursday night but it’s important to keep the result in perspective, as they still hold a two-game lead in the Atlantic 10 with three to play. Things can potentially get tighter with a loss at VCU, but the Billikens have won the last three meetings between the two programs. In order to beat the Rams again, Saint Louis will need to make perimeter shots at a higher clip than they did against Duquesne.