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Atlantic 10 Wednesday Recap: Saint Louis and Massachusetts win close games

It was a thrilling Wednesday night in Pittsburgh to start the Atlantic 10 Tournament as two games came down to the wire. Massachusetts and Duquesne held big leads in the second half, and even though both let their opponents come back, only the Minutemen were able to hang on. Massachusetts won 70-63 over Saint Joseph’s while Saint Louis came back to beat Duquesne 72-71 in thrilling fashion.

Massachusetts 70, Saint Joseph’s 63

Massachusetts used the shooting of C.J. Anderson and Zach Lewis to build a lead in the first half and start pulling away in the second. Anderson had 17 while Lewis had 14, and the Minutemen looked as if they’d cruise into Thursday with a 20 point win under their belt. The Hawks wouldn’t give in so easily, though, as James Demery and company started storming their way back. Demery finished the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and with less than 5 minutes to go, he helped cut Saint Joseph’s deficit to 5. The Minutemen would hold on though, hitting their free throws down the stretch and keeping the game out of reach.

Massachusetts beats Saint Joseph’s for the third time this season, this one being the closest matchup of the 3. Despite hitting less than 30% of their three point attempts, the Minutemen still knocked down 8 shots from deep and shot better than 60% from two. Defense was the name of the game for Massachusetts who held Saint Joseph’s to less than 40% shooting from the field. Other than Demery and Charlie Brown (14 points), no one could get much going for the Hawks. Massachusetts ends Saint Joseph’s season and advances to face St. Bonaventure in the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Thursday.

Saint Louis 72, Duquesne 71

Duquesne lost in depressing fashion on Wednesday night, as the Dukes let a double digit lead slip right out of their hands. This team slowly started giving way to Saint Louis in the second half after being red-hot from three in the first. Elliott Welmer, Mike Crawford, and Reggie Agbkeo finished with 17, 16, and 15 points respectively, and all 3 came up clutch in the second half. Particularly towards the end of the game, Agbeko made some key plays that chipped into Duquesne’s dwindling lead. After Duquesne missed two free throws with less than 10 seconds to play, Davell Roby tipped in a miss at the other end that’d put Saint Louis up for good.

Saint Louis’ comeback was one of the greatest head coach Travis Ford has ever experienced, and it had to be great for team morale. The Billikens get to play George Washington on Thursday, and the way they’ve looked at times this season, they certainly could pull off the upset. Saint Louis has to be happy with the way Travis Ford is bringing winning back to this program. At the same time, this was yet another disappointing close loss for Duquesne. The Dukes are no strangers to blowing leads, and this felt like the worst possible season ending for a team that’s been kicked around all year. Lucky for the Dukes, they have some great young talent in Mike Lewis II (22 points against Saint Louis) and Isiaha Mike who will be returning next season.

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Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for ...