Rally falls short in 63-57 loss to Wisconsin
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Dwayne Evans got into foul trouble early, but came off the bench to help recharge a struggling Saint Louis offense that was trailing No. 10 Wisconsin by 15 points.
Driving into the paint and drawing fouls, Evans scored four free throws and a layup in a little over a minute to help make it a 5-point game with 1:10 to play.
But fouls proved the Billikens’ undoing, and the Badgers scored five free throws in the final minute to blunt the surge and win 63-57 to advance to face West Virginia in Wednesday’s finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Rob Loe led the reigning Atlantic 10 Conference champion Billikens (5-1) with 15 points, Austin McBroom scored 14 and Evans, who is averaging 13.6 points per game this season, finished with 12.
Saint Louis beat Oral Roberts 72-55 on Thursday and Bowling Green 74-47 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals against Wisconsin (7-0). Evans scored 14 points against Bowling Green as the Billikens led wire-to-wire.
Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson led all scorers with 16 points Tuesday and Frank Kaminsky added 12 for the undefeated Badgers.
Kaminsky grabbed eight rebounds and had four blocks that helped Wisconsin to a 20-15 halftime lead. Jackson stepped up to help squash the Billikens’ second-half run.
With the win, Wisconsin is off to its best start of the Bo Ryan era. The Badgers have not opened the season with seven consecutive wins since starting 11-0 in 1993-94.
The lead changed hands five times in the first period until 5:42, when Kaminsky blocked McBroom’s layup attempt and Bronson Koenig made a 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 20-15 lead. Kaminsky had four of the Badger’s seven blocks in the period.
The 7-foot-tall Kaminsky also drew Saint Louis’ 10th team foul of the period, putting Wisconsin in the double bonus, and the Badgers converted five free throws in the final three minutes.
The Billikens tried to rally on a layup and dunk by Loe, but Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser and Duje Dukan responded with layups of their own to make it 31-23 at the half. Saint Louis shot 31.3 percent from the field in the period compared with Wisconsin’s 47.6 percent.
Wisconsin opened the second half on a 6-2 run that included two layups by Kaminsky, forcing a Saint Louis timeout, then shot five more unanswered points for a 40-25 lead at 14:05, their largest lead of the game.
But then Evans, benched in the first period after committing three fouls, re-entered the game and recharged the Saint Louis offense, scoring four free throws a layup and two jumpers to make it a 10-point game with 9:56 to play.
Jordair Jett scored a jumper, then had a chance to make it a 6-point game, but missed the free throws and Wisconsin withstood the Saint Louis burst, extending their lead to 50-38 with 5:16 to play on a layup by Sam Dekker and a Kaminsky jumper.
But Saint Louis rallied again, with Dekker accidentally tipping in a shot by Evans, and Loe hitting a jumper and a free throw to make it a 5-point game with 1:10 to go. But the Billikens turned it over and Jackson hit two free throws to make it 58-51. Loe and McBroom hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Saint Louis, but the Badgers held off the run, with Jackson scoring 10 points in the final 3 minutes.
Jackson led all scorers with 7 free throws on 7-of-10 shooting. Kaminsky scored a Wisconsin single-game record 43 points against North Dakota on Nov. 19 and ranks among the Big Ten Conference’s top 10 in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game.
Wisconsin beat Bowling Green 88-64 on Thursday and Oral Roberts 76-67 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals.