ST. LOUIS – Despite a career-high 28 points from SLU sophomore guard Tommie Liddell (East St. Louis, Ill.), Duquesne topped host Saint Louis 73-63 in Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball action at Scottrade Center tonight. The Dukes, who shot 51 percent from the field, clawed back from a 14-point first half deficit to improve to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in the A-10. SLU dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season and falls to 10-5 overall, 0-2 in conference play.
The Billikens led throughout the game until Gary Tucker sank two free throws at the 5:16 mark to give the Dukes a 55-53 advantage, a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way. The free throws came in the middle of a 12-0 run, which put the Dukes up for good after trailing by 14 points at one point in the first half and eight points at halftime. Duquesne connected on enough of its attempts at the line down the stretch to protect the lead.
SLU got it started with an outside jumper from Liddell and a traditional 3-point play from junior forward Luke Meyer (Washington, Mo./Boriga). Liddell, who was hot from 3-point range in SLU’s previous game against St. Bonaventure, hit is his first attempted trey to put the Billikens up 8-3 in the early going. A couple of 3-pointers from Duquesne’s Reggie Jackson and Phillip Fayne knotted the score 8-8 at the 16:19 mark, but running layup from Meyer sparked an 8-0 rally, which gave the Billikens a lead it would protect until Duquesne’s second half rally.
The resilient Duquesne squad hung around early thanks to a 10-0 run, which included an Almamy Thiero slam, to cut their once 14-point deficit to just four at 32-28 with 2:18 left in the first half. But SLU would take a 38-33 advantage into the break thanks to 11 straight points from Liddell, including a running layup off a steal with 30 seconds remaining in the half. Liddell brought a game-high 18 points into the locker room at the break, and Meyer, who hit his first five attempts from the field, had 11 points at intermission.
Reggie Jackson threw in eight straight points for the Dukes to start the second half, and a Theiro layup tied the game at 46-46 at the 15:57 mark. Liddell, who along with Polk helped the Billikens keep pace early in the half with 3s, converted a traditional 3-point play to spark a 7-0 Billiken run. Senior center Ian Vouyoukas (Athens, Greece) had a bucket in the rally, and Meyer put his first second half points on the board with a running layup to give the Billikens a 53-47 lead with 11:31 remaining in the game.
But Duquesne responded with its game-altering 12-0 run, which included a 3-ball from Aaron Jackson and the go-ahead free throws from Tucker, to take a 58-53 lead with 4:21 left. It would build on that lead down the stretch as the Dukes pulled away to the 10-point victory.
Liddell’s 26 points came on 10-of-14 from the floor and a 3-of-7 performance from the perimeter. Meyer pumped in 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and matched Liddell’s 5-of-5 mark from the charity stripe. SLU turned the ball over 17 times, which resulted in 28 points for Duquesne on the other end.
Saint Louis continues A-10 play when it hosts Rhode Island on Jan. 10, 2007. Tip-off at Scottrade Center is slated for 7 p.m.