ST. LOUIS — Joe McDonald couldn’t hide his exhaustion.
He wasn’t the only George Washington starter who didn’t have much left after getting little help from a thin bench.
“It’s a big game,” McDonald said. “We cut the lead down, so you can’t really let that be a factor. But it’s fine.”
The Colonials, who trailed 41-27 early in the second half, went on a 14-2 run to tie the score at 50 on Maurice Creek’s short jumper with 9:18 left. George Washington was just 3 of 18 after that.
Saint Louis’ reserves outscored their George Washington counterparts 22-2. Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said his players had little energy left in the final 9 minutes. He used 10 players but the backups totaled just 21 minutes, nine from John Kopriva who scored the reserves’ only basket.
“I was worried about us being tired and I had already used already at least two or three timeouts and I was thinking who can I sub and try to get guys a couple of minutes,” he said. “Then the game just kept going a little bit too fast pace for us and we gave up some easy baskets.”
Saint Louis coach Jim Crews said his team did a better job of handling the ball and keeping George Washingtonfrom getting rebounds after the Colonials tied the game. He also credits his plea for his team to get closer to the basket before it took shots with spurring a 12-2 run to take a 62-52 lead with just under 3 minutes left.
“We quit taking jump shots like crazy in terms of early in the possession and quick and trying to shoot our way through instead of execute our way through,” he said. “Very uncharacteristic of us.”
Wichita State (29 straight) and Stephen F. Austin (22) are the only teams with longer winning streaks than the Billikens.
Saint Louis (25-2, 12-0) shot 55.2 percent in the first to take a 39-27 lead at the break and Jett scored the first basket to open the second half.
The Billikens struggled from the free-throw line (12 of 25), 3-point range (3 of 16) and were outrebounded 42-36, including giving up 17 offensive boards. But they shot 48 percent from the field and held the Colonials to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor.
It was the fifth time in six games Saint Louis won by seven points or fewer.
“We kind of expect to come out with the ‘W,’” said Loe, who led Saint Louis with nine rebounds. “We never think we’re going to lose. We were comfortable being where we were. How many games straight now that it’s been close like that? We’re comfortable in situations like that where we can execute down the stretch.”