ST. LOUIS – It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Missouri defeated St. Louis University 65-62 on Sunday at Bauman-Eberhardt Center.
The Tigers improved to 9-2 while the Billikens fell to 6-7.
“I really thought that was one of the ugliest games we’ve played,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “But at the same time we out-uglied them, and that is always important.”
Missouri’s five-point lead with 12:47 left in the first half was the biggest margin in a game that had 11 ties and 19 lead changes.
With the game tied at 62, a Billikens shot clock violation gave the ball to Missouri with 49.9 seconds left.
Senior forward Stretch James made a jump shot with 34 seconds left to give the Tigers the lead, 64-62. James then blocked a shot by senior forward Angie Lewis, who led all scorers with 19 points.
“I thought I had a good look, so I shot it and I am glad it went in,” James said.
James only played for two minutes of the first half and sat on the bench for the remaining minutes because of foul trouble. She finished the game with 10 points, three rebounds and four blocks.
James, who started the game averaging 14.2 points, said she didn’t think she was getting very many good looks at the basket.
“My shots didn’t seem like they were going in,” James said. “It was frustrating that I had two fouls and couldn’t really do anything about it.”
Senior forward Melanie Fisher recovered the ball after James’ block and was immediately fouled. Fisher missed her free throw and St. Louis got the ball and Unrau was called for a foul while going for a rebound.
James rebounded the ball when sophomore guard Shea Kenny missed a layup that would have tied the game. Missouri’s LaToya Bond, a sophomore guard, was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws to score the final point with 5 seconds left.
Freshman forward EeTisha Riddle played 11 minutes during the first half for James. Riddle had five rebounds and two blocks in the half.
Stein said she held off playing James during the first half because of the way the Missouri bench played.
“I felt like if we would go down by very much I’d put her back in,” Stein said. “I felt like our bench play was very good, and they were really aggressive and they were helping us out. So I felt like we have her for full out in the second half that would be the best option.
Missouri made 24-of-56 shots from the field, but missed several shots under the basket.
“(If) a couple of the easy shots go in today we are OK,” Stein said. “The problem was the easy shots weren’t going in for us today and it puts a little bit more pressure on us today.”
Senior forward Evan Unrau, who started the game averaging 19.7 points made only 4-of-10 from the field. Unrau finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought sometimes our offense got kind of stagnant,” Unrau said. “We just kind of got caught standing.”
Missouri trailed at halftime 32-31 after turning the ball over 12 times. Senior guard Tracy Lozier led the Tigers in scoring during the first half, making 4-of-7 from the field and making 3-of-4 3-pointers. Lozier led the Tigers in scoring with 14 points.
Unrau was quiet for most of the first half, shooting 3-of-6 from the field and scoring eight points.
“I think it’s a sign of a good team that when you don’t play well you still win,” Stein said.