timberland booties ‘There’s no excuse’ for SLU getting buried in A
Johnson clearly was not going to play Saturday due to a sprained ankle.
But the Explorers would have had to withhold a lot more than his usual 22 points and nine rebounds to give St. Louis University a chance in an Atlantic 10 opener the Billikens lost 83 60 at Tom Gola Arena.
“The biggest thing is that they were playing at a different speed, a totally different speed,” SLU coach Travis Ford said. “We kept trying to get our guys going. I told them we had to change the momentum, and not once did we do it, not once did we go on a run.”
There was little positive energy to take from the game for the Billikens (0 1 in the A 10, 7 7 overall) as the defense struggled, the offense sputtered and energy waned throughout.
A weak defensive team the last two seasons, La Salle exploited SLU’s usually solid defense by shooting 51 percent and making eight of 17 3 pointers. The Explorers put the Billikens in another early hole, but there was no hope of digging out once La Salle finished the first half with a 21 5 run.
“I feel that when things don’t go our way early in a game, we get down a lot and start doing things that are out of our element,” guard Jordan Goodwin said.
Goodwin was the only saving grace for SLU. He had a double double by halftime and finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“They came out and played from the jump and we didn’t come ready to play,” guard Javon Bess said. “We hold ourselves to a higher standard. That’s something we’ve got to lock in and maybe get together and do something before the game. We have to come out ready to play and have that attitude to come out and hit them in the mouth early.”
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A slow start in a road game might not be unusual, but it’s not like it was a hostile atmosphere. Ford’s pleas to his players and the officials could be heard on the opposite side of the court over the crowd of 1,437.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Philadelphia, three SLU players who have yet to see game action continued to await a decision in the university’s Title IX investigation. They traveled with the team on an eight day trip that will move on to North Carolina, where the Billikens play Davidson on Wednesday. The three players continue to practice.
Asked if he knew anything about when a decision would be rendered, Ford said,
“You’re asking the wrong guy.”
Bess didn’t hesitate about whether the personnel shortage has impacted the team.
“I believe so,” he said, “but it is what it is.”
The Billikens have at times made good use of their eight man rotation, but they never got into a rhythm against La Salle (1 0, 7 7).
In the first half, they shot 27.3 percent, were outrebounded 24 17, had no assists and missed all three of their free throws. La Salle shot well throughout.
Guards Pookie Powell and Amar Stukes made up for Johnson’s missing offense by combining to make 20 of 30 shots, including six of seven 3s, and score 48 points. Powell started the game with two driving layups, and Ford tried different defenders with little luck as Powell scored 28 in 27 minutes. In the second half Ford was screaming at his players, “Don’t let him touch the ball.”
Meanwhile, SLU had consecutive baskets only once in the first half and went into the break trailing 44 19. La Salle grew its lead to 33 six minutes into the second half.
“They did a good job taking away how we get assists, driving and kick outs. They did a really good job of that,” Ford said. “Then someone has to rise up and make a shot. They were giving us 12 and 15 foot jumpers. We still didn’t do a great job.”
Bess hit the first shot of the game and didn’t make another in the first half. Jalen Johnson was scoreless in the first half. Aaron Hines missed all 10 of his shots. Hasahn French was ineffective offensively when he was in the game.
La Salle didn’t even need Johnson to take care of SLU on the boards, outrebounding the Billikens 42 34, led by 6 foot 4 guard Saul Phiri with 10.
“This is tough. There’s no excuse,” Ford said. “To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. We just never got going. We’re not going to win any games when the other team shoots 51 percent and 47 percent (3 pointers).”