Looks like the madness decided to arrive a little early.
Just two days before the official beginning of college basketball‘s favorite month, the Duquesne Dukes walked into Chaifetz Arena and shocked the Saint Louis Billikens, 71-64, giving them their first loss since dropping a 70-65 decision Dec. 1 against Wichita State.
The loss ended the Billikens (25-3, 12-1 Atlantic 10) school record 19-game winning streak, third-longest in the country this season, and put their title aspirations on hold for a minute, as a win would’ve given them at least a share of the league crown.
Sophomore guard Micah Mason led all scorers with 22 points for Duquense (12-15, 4-10), but senior guard Jerry Jones shot 8-for-10 from the floor and scored a season-high 19 points off the bench.
The backcourt of Mike McCall Jr. and reigning conference player of the week Jordair Jett combined for 31 points to lead the Billikens (25-3, 12-1 Atlantic 10), but they got no closer than 61-57 after the Dukes’ blistering second half, as they allowed 46 second-half points to the the league’s 10th place team. The Dukes were also 8-of-15 from beyond the three-point arc, which is nearly unheard of against the Billikens, who are second in the country in defensive three-point field goal percentage.
The Dukes know that any chance they have at qualifying for the NCAA tournament rest solely on the A-10 tourney, March 12-16 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Despite sub .500 record, they’ve been highly competitive in their last two games, losing 71-67 at St. Bonaventure and 57-54 at home to Dayton.
Saint Louis has provided its fanbase with several exciting finishes this year, winning six games by five points or less this season. The loss tonight makes the conference race a little interesting, as the Billikens hold a two-game lead over Saint Joseph’s (10-3). It also hushed any potential talk of them possibly gaining a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney provided they swept the A-10 regular season and tournament titles.
The Billikens will conclude the season facing VCU and Massachusetts, who are both tied in the conference standings at 9-4