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Saint Louis played its best basketball of the season during a 19-game winning streak, however the Billikens stumbled down the stretch and had lost four of five.

North Carolina State, by contrast, surged late to earn a spot in the NCAA field.

The Billikens won their opening game in the tournament each of the past two seasons before losing matchups against Michigan State in 2012 and Oregon a year ago.

“We missed a ton of free throws tonight, and we missed some other opportunities both defensively and offensively, but I thought during the process it was pretty good,” Crews said. “We were getting what we wanted to get, but we weren’t cashing in on it. I can’t salute these guys enough in terms of how they just stayed with it.”