ST. LOUIS - Rob Loe scored a career-high 20 points to lead four Saint Louis players in double figures, and the Billikens outscored Massachusetts 20-8 over the final 9:14 to claim a 70-62 victory Thursday night at Chaifetz Arena is the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both teams.
The victory was SLU's ninth in a row and capped a 9-0 home stand for the Billikens (12-3, 1-0). It's the first nine-game winning streak for Saint Louis since the 1993-94 Bills began the season 14-0.
Loe tied his career high with six field goals (6-of-10), including a 2-of-4 effort from 3-point range, and also posted career highs of six free throws and seven free-throw attempts.
Jordair Jett scored 15 points, while Mike McCall Jr. and Kwamain Mitchell tallied 10 each. Cory Remekuncollected nine rebounds to power the Billikens to a 38-35 edge on the glass. Loe had a season-high seven rebounds, while Dwayne Evans and Cody Ellis grabbed six boards apiece.
Loe, Jett, McCall Jr. and Mitchell combined to shoot 20-of-32 (.625) from the floor.
Evans led SLU and equaled his career bests with four assists and three blocks. Jett made a game-high three steals to tie his season high.
Cady Lalanne scored a career-high 18 points and hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds (seven offensive) off the bench to lead UMass (10-4, 0-1), which had a seven-game winning streak halted. Chaz Williams had 14 points, six rebounds and a game-high seven assists, and Terrell Vinson chipped in 11 points.
SLU quickly increased a three-point halftime lead to six, but UMass scored on nine of 12 possessions and led 54-50 with 9:28 to play.
The Billikens began their decisive run on their next possession with a Remekun layup. Loe made the front end of a 1-and-1, and Jett's fast-break layup put Saint Louis ahead for good.
Jett followed with a steal and a layup for a 57-54 advantage. After Lalanne narrowed the gap to a point with two free throws, Remekun answered with two of his own from the stripe to restore a three-point lead.
After the Minutemen missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on their next possession, Ellis made a key play. He drew contact beyond the 3-point arc and instinctively put up an off-balance shot. Judged to be in the act of shooting, Ellis swished three free throws for a 62-56 Billiken lead.
UMass trimmed the margin to four points twice, but Mitchell's strong drive to the basket put Saint Louis in front 66-60 at the 1:15 mark. Free throws by McCall Jr. and Jett increased the lead to eight.
Vinson hit a jumper with 26 seconds left to keep the UMass hopes alive. Mitchell missed two free throws to keep the door open, but a Minuteman 3-point attempt with 14 seconds remaining rimmed out. Mitchell drove for a layup to account for the final score.
After Vinson scored five early points to help UMass to a 7-4 lead, Saint Louis used an 8-2 run to go on top 12-9.
Loe turned an offensive rebound into a layup, and Evans drove the baseline for a layup and an 8-7 lead. Remekun's layup and McCall Jr.'s pull-up jumper in the lane finished the run.
A dunk and two free throws by Lalanne put the Minutemen back in front, and Williams' driving layup made it 15-12 UMass.
The Billikens answered with another 8-2 spurt. Jett drove for a layup and sank two from the stripe for a 16-15 SLU advantage. Following two UMass free throws, Loe tipped in a teammate's miss and Mitchell buried a jumper from the right elbow to put the Bills up 20-17.
After a Williams trey tied the game at 21, Mitchell connected from the right wing to give Saint Louis a 23-21 edge. Freddie Riley's 3-pointer returned the advantage to UMass and began a string of six lead changes in a span of 3:30.
The last of the lead changes occurred on Loe's triple from the right wing that put the Billikens on top 32-31. Loe drained another 3-pointer from the opposite side to give Saint Louis the largest first-half lead for either team, 35-31. A Lalanne free throw made it 35-32 at the break.
The Billikens answered Williams' game-tying 3-pointer with Loe's three-point play and a McCall Jr. trifecta for a 41-35 lead. SLU suffered six consecutive empty possessions, however, and saw draw UMass draw to within a point on two occasions.
An Evans free throw made it 44-42, and McCall Jr. followed with a steal and a layup for a 46-42 lead. Jett answered a Sampson Carter bucket with a fast-break layup, and Vinson's short spinner was followed by two Evans free throws that put the Billikens in front 50-46.
UMass responded with an 8-0 flurry. Riley sparked the run with a 3-pointer, Lalanne scored off an offensive rebound and Williams canned another trey, and it was 54-50 Minutemen with 9:28 remaining.
With UMass pressing full court, Remekun got behind the defense and made the layup that began the Billikens' game-ending flurry.
The Bills travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple Saturday, Jan. 12. Tip time is 5 p.m. (CT)