On Monday night, in a game rescheduled due to inclement weather from Jan. 5, SLU took on Dayton in a 5 p.m. game at Chaifetz Arena. The Bills chance at wining their sixth conference game in seven games was snapped by the Flyers, who claimed victory 90-74, the most points SLU has given up all season. SLU, whose opponents average only 64.1 points per game, led Dayton at halftime 34-32.
However, in the second half, the Flyers got the hot hand and shot an unheard-of 69 percent from the field, scoring 58 total points in the second half. SLU’s 40 percent field goal percentage on the game wasn’t enough to hold off the Flyers. The Bills were also out-rebounded 44-33.
Leading scorers for the Billikens for the game were freshman Erin Nelson and sophomore Denisha Womack, who netted 21 points apiece.
SLU then had just one day after playing Dayton to prepare to host Rhode Island. The single day between games is the quickest turn around of the season in conference play for the Billikens. Only the Cyclone Challenge in December, where the team played back-to-back days, had a shorter span between games on the season.
Wednesday’s game against the Rams was a cat and mouse chase, but SLU reigned victorious 57-53, despite not having the normal time to recover between games.
“We were definitely ready for a win. It didn’t affect how we played really, it was more motivation to get this next one. We didn’t really focus on the loss at all. Instead, we focused more on just moving on to the next game since it was such a quick turn around,” Nelson said.
SLU, whose largest lead of the game was nine points, was never behind all game. Whenever the Bills would appear to be pulling ahead, the Rams would fire back and come within two. The Bills took their first of three eight-point leads late in the first half, and led by eight again with under 30 seconds in the first half. The score going into the break was 31-25, favoring the home team.
However, the Rams came out of the locker room hot and quickly tied the score at 31. The Bills then fired back with their own five-point run, going up 36-31, only to have the Rams claw their way back in and tie the score at 38, the last time the score was tied on the night. Two three-point shots by Nelson and junior Desirae Ball helped SLU jump out to another eight point lead, 48-40. The teams then traded buckets, and with 5:23 left in the game, the score was 51-47.
SLU led by six at the final media time out, but the score was back within three, 55-52, with 53 seconds left. The Bills held on, and a free throw with 12.6 seconds left by Womack sealed the game, 57-53.
“They definitely out-hustled us throughout some parts of the game, but we stuck through it and a win is a win as pretty as it is, even though it wasn’t that pretty,” Nelson said.
Nelson and Womack were the leading scorers for the second-straight game with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Womack also posted her fifth double-double of the season, adding 14 rebounds in addition to her points. Six of these boards came on offense, which is a career high for Womack.
“I knew we were going to get some really good posts today, so it was a lot of pressure on the posts on our team, so we had to step up and rebound. That was like the main focus: to not let them get as many offensive rebounds and try to beat them on the glass,” Womack said.
SLU will travel to Richmond to take on VCU on Saturday. In their last time out, VCU beat St. Bonaventure 74-57. SLU also recently beat the Bonnies on Feb. 12 at home 72-65. This is the first matchup between the teams this season. A few keys to the game are maintaining momentum on offense and strong defense.
“Really just playing our packed defense and rebounding. The score is going to come, offense is going to come; we just have to get stops on defense so we can have momentum into offense,” Womack said.
While Womack offered a more strategic approach to the game, Nelson had a more simple idea of how to defeat the Rams on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“Play together,” she stated simply.