The work week ended much the same way it started—with a Saint Louis Billikens win over the UMass Minutemen. The 4-seed Billkens triumphed over UMass in a dominating fashion, winning 86-72, led by 25 from Javonte Perkins and a 18 point, 14 rebound performance from Jordan Goodwin.
UMass had momentum after posting 100 points against St. Joseph’s in the second round, but Jordan Goodwin immediately got to work, scoring 10 points before the U16 media time out. From there, it was all SLU. The Billikens collected twice as many rebounds as UMass, 45-22, and dictated the flow of the game for all 40 minutes. Yuri Collins was an offensive spark plug, as the 6 foot Southside Catholic product notched a triple nickel with 17 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. UMass challenged Collins, who averaged 4.8 points per game coming into this game, to shoot, and Yuri obliged, hitting a three early that set the tone for the game.
Jordan Goodwin turned in one of his best shooting performances of the season, knocking down multiple mid-range shots and a three-pointer that led to a 4 point play. Goodwin was, as usual, a menace on the glass, with 5 offensive rebounds in his 14 total rebounds. Goodwin and Hasahn French alone outrebounded UMass 25-22.
After a 2-6 first half, Javonte Perkins went off in the second half to put the game away for SLU. Perkins finished with 25 points on 7-15 shooting. Most importantly, Perkins went 11-13 from the line. Perkins has been getting to the line less this season, but when he is attacking the hoop and getting to the line, he is the most dangerous scorer in the A10. SLU also got a big contribution from Fred Thatch on the bench. Thatch scored 9 points and pulled down 5 rebounds, including 3 on the offensive glass, continuing his hot play of late.
SLU’s big men struggled with foul trouble, as Marten Linssen fouled out with over 11 minutes left in the game, and Jimmy Bell and Hasahn French played much of the second half with three fouls. However, French finished with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists and Linssen contributed 9 points before he fouled out. While Tre Mitchell scored 30 points, the rest of the Minutemen were unable to do any damage, as SLU held UMass to 29% from behind the arc after their lights out performance against St. Joe’s.
Overall it was a dominating win for a team that really needed one. SLU showed it is one of the best teams in the conference, setting the stage for a showdown with the top seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies, in a rematch of the 2019 A10 Championship Final. SLU won the first matchup 70-59 at Chaifetz, but the rematch is guaranteed to be a tough test for the Billikens. The Billikens have been hit-or-miss since the COVID pause, but they are now playing some of their best basketball of the season, and the showdown at 6pm ET/5pm CT has a good shot of being the game of the tournament.