“I really wasn’t worried about running plays or anything, I just wanted them to fight,” said Travis Ford after SLU’s 66-64 road win over Seton Hall.
Fight is exactly what the Billikens did, gritting out a tough win on the road. After stumbling their way to victory in their first three games against easier opponents, there was a concern that the Billikens would fall against the Seton Hall Pirates. Instead, the Billikens stuck with Seton Hall early, pulled out to a double digit lead, and then hung on to that lead despite Seton Hall’s best efforts in front of an energetic crowd at the Prudential Center.
Overcoming sloppy play and questionable refereeing, the Billikens relied on their defense and rebounding to win the game, and dominated Seton Hall physically. Carte’Are Gordon was credited with 3 blocks and altered countless shots. The Billikens absolutely plundered the Pirates on the boards, out rebounding Seton Hall 40-28. This was enough to make up for the (deep breath) 27 fouls and 24 turnovers the Billikens committed. They shut down Seton Hall’s best player, Myles Powell. Powell had been averaging 27 points per game on the season, but Javon Bess and Fred Thatch hounded him all game, and Powell finished with only 16 points on 4-16 shooting. Bess added 13 rebounds and Thatch had an acrobatic block on a attempted Powell fadeaway jumper.
Javon showed what he’s capable of and what he means to our team,” Ford said. “That’s why I’ve always said I think he may have a chance to play at the next level, because of his defense.”
Dion Wiley led the Billikens with 17 points, going a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc. Wiley’s shot hadn’t been falling much in the first three games, but he only missed one shot from the field tonight and went to the free throw line 10 times. Tramaine Isabell Jr. added 12 points on 4-6 shooting before fouling out. It was a big game for Isabell since he heavily considered playing his grad transfer year at Seton Hall.
“I was actually thinking of coming to Seton Hall, I chose SLU over Seton Hall so it was a big game for me, seeing the coaches, seeing the players that I was really close to committing to.”
Gordon was the big story for the Billikens. The highly touted freshman has gotten more comfortable every game, and against the best competition he’s faced, he had by far his best game. Gordon was a complete force on defense, and added 14 points on 6-10 shooting on offense. The Webster Groves product has a rare mix of athleticism and skill that allows him to physically dominate opponents or outfox them. He rendered 7’2 shot blocker Romaro Gill almost unplayable by using his quickness, and at one point blocked a dunk attempt and then hit Jordan Goodwin with an accurate outlet pass, which Goodwin converted into a midrange jumper. Gordon credited his aggressive play to going against Hasahn French in practice each and every day, saying it helps him a lot.
While the win over Seton Hall is a huge win and a nice resume booster, the Billikens are aware they still have a lot to improve on. Wiley estimated that the Bills only played their “C game” tonight. With that in mind, fans of rival A-10 schools must be terrified to find out what the Billikens “A game” is, and Billiken fans must be hoping that the team does discover their full potential as the season progresses.