Game Ball: Kwamain Mitchell. The Billikens' redshirt junior floor general was everywhere tonight. Although Mike McCall led the team in scoring, Mitchell had seven assists and several key plays that won't show up anywhere in the box score. Most notably, he dove out of bounds and saved a ball straight to Cody Ellis who then went up and scored an easy bucket. That extended the lead to six points, and La Salle couldn't seem to overcome that late hit.
Key Number: 45%. The Billikens shot nine-for-20 from deep, including a huge three by McCall to extend SLU's lead after La Salle had cut it to two. Forward Dwayne Evans, who had just seven three-pointers on the season coming in, hit on both of his attempts.
Weix's Take: After a quick 14-2 start, the Saint Louis Billikens couldn't seem to find a rhythm offensively with Dwayne Evans sitting on the bench with two early fouls. After La Salle pulled to 14-13, SLU answered yet again. That was essentially the story of the night. It was a back-and-forth game and SLU seemed to have a response to every Explorer counterattack.
In the big picture, this was also an important win. Although many experts predicted that the Billikens would be in whether they won or lost tonight, they were able to reduce any doubt that may have been produced by a quarterfinal loss.
I thought Mitchell was fantastic, as was La Salle's Earl Pettis. I expected big games from both, though. I was perhaps most impressed with McCall. Ever since he replaced Kyle Cassity in the starting lineup on Feb. 1 against St. Bonaventure, he has put together six double-figure scoring performances.
A team that has been plagued by free throws at times this year was clutch down the stretch at the stripe to seal the victory over a scrappy bunch from Philadelphia.
Up Next: SLU will face the winner of Xavier/Dayton tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. CT in the A-10 semifinals.