Friday, March 15, 2013 7:35 pm
Saint Louis beats Charlotte 72-55 in A-10 quarters
By RACHEL COHENAP Sports Writer
The Saint Louis forward had a career-high 25 points on near-perfect shooting to lead top-seeded Saint Louis to a 72-55 win over Charlotte in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Friday.
"He scores almost every time down or he gets fouled," guard Mike McCall said.
The 16th-ranked Billikens (25-6) pulled away early and ensured the 49ers would not be making any crazy comebacks this time, forcing 20 turnovers and turning them into 21 points.
A day earlier, ninth-seeded Charlotte (21-11) shocked Richmond 68-63 by hitting eight free throws in the final five seconds after the Spiders were called for three technical fouls.
Evans made his first seven field goal attempts before finally missing on one of his easiest chances of the day, a putback that bounced off the rim with just over 7 1/2 minutes remaining. He finished 8 for 9 from the floor and 9 for 9 from the foul line and added nine rebounds.
"He's their best post player, and you wouldn't say that for a 6-6 guy on most teams," 49ers coach Alan Major said. "He's the guy that, when they need a basket to throw the ball inside to, he's the best guy they have. He's kind of an unsung hero on that team."
After Charlotte hit its first two 3-pointers of the tournament to pull within 19-16, Saint Louis scored 13 straight points in under two minutes. The Billikens forced three turnovers and hit three 3-pointers to take a 32-16 lead with more than 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Charlotte never got closer than seven the rest of the way. Chris Braswell led the 49ers with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
"They were just speeding us up," Braswell said. "We were just rushing, trying to make home run passes."
Saint Louis will face fifth-seeded Butler in Saturday's semifinals.
Evans was limited to 10 minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul with 7:37 left. He still managed 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
He was called for his third foul less than a minute into the second half and went to the bench. But with Charlotte threatening to make a run, he returned - and immediately scored inside to put Saint Louis back up 43-33 with more than 14 minutes to go.
That sparked an 11-3 run, with Evans accounting for eight of the points that returned the lead to 16.
At just 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the junior kept getting the ball in great post position.
"We've got some of the best passers in America out there," Evans said. "A lot of those passes I hardly saw coming."
The rest of the Billikens were just 13 of 47 from the floor. They were 5 of 23 on 3-pointers, but hung in against a strong rebounding team on the boards and held Charlotte to 38.8 percent shooting.
"I think we got the win kind of like we usually do," interim coach Jim Crews said. "We get a little from the defense, a little inside. We don't shoot the ball that well from 3. It seemed like we get 3s at the right time, get to the line. We have a lot of different ways. I don't know if we're really, really good at any of them, but we're good at a lot of them."
Pierria Henry, who hit the eight free throws Thursday that gave Charlotte the win, got caught by an elbow from Jordair Jett in the lower neck late in the game and stayed on the floor for several minutes, short of breath. The officials ruled Jett did not raise his elbows illegally.
Henry eventually walked off the court under his own power but was still in obvious discomfort. He was wheeled out of the arena receiving oxygen and taken to a hospital, where the entire team later joined him. Henry was diagnosed with a bruised trachea and was back at the team hotel by Friday night.