KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Senior Xavier Sneed’s 3-point field goal with 2 seconds left was just off the mark, as Saint Louis held on for a 66-63 win over Kansas State before 11,625 fans in the 10th Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center.
In a highly-contest game where neither team led by more 3 points in the second half, Saint Louis (10-2) broke a 63-all tie on freshman Yuri Collins’ driving layup with 2:02 to play. Collins extended the lead to 66-63 on a free throw with 52 seconds before a final sequence, in which, Sneed had an opportunity to tie the game on the final possession. The teams battled through 13 ties and 12 lead changes, including 10 of each in the second half.
K-State (6-5) has now lost 4 of 5 games this season by single digits, including consecutive games.
The loss spoiled an impressive effort by junior forward and St. Louis native Levi Stockard III, who scored a career-high 17 points off the bench on 5-of-5 field goals and 7-of-9 free throws. It marked the first time in his 79-game career that he has scored in double figures and the first time he has led the team in scoring. Fellow St. Louis native Xavier Sneed also scored in double figures with 11 points on 3-of-7 field goals, all coming from 3-point range.
Stockard was part of a Wildcat bench that scored 31 of the team’s 63 points, as junior David Sloan chipped in 7 points to go with a season-best 8 assists in a season-high 28 minutes and freshmen DaJuan Gordon and Montavious Murphy added 5 and 2 points, respectively. It marked Murphy’s first action in more than a month after missing the last 7 games due to injury.
The Billiken bench also proofed to be effective with 31 points of their own, as junior Javonte Perkins scored of all his team-high 12 points in the second half, while freshman Terrance Hargrove, Jr., added 10 points. Perkins and Hargrove went a combined 7-of-10 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Junior starter Jordan Goodwin also registered double figures with 11 points.
The loss snapped the Wildcats’ 5-game winning streak in the Wildcat Classic, which has been held since 2007. It was the first loss in the Classic in nearly a decade since a 63-59 setback to UNLV on Dec. 21, 2010.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Saint Louis came out of the game firing, scoring the first 9 points before a 3-pointer by junior Cartier Diarra gave K-State its first points at the 13:58 mark. The Wildcats missed their first 6 field goals before the triple by Diarra.
After a pair of free throws by freshman DaJuan Gordon cut the gap to 9-5, the Billikens responded with 9 of the next 11 points, capped by a 3-pointer from senior Tay Weaver, to increase their lead to 18-7 at the 11:27 mark.
Head coach Bruce Weber inserted junior reserve David Sloan into the lineup at the next break and the change ignited a 10-1 run by the Wildcats that closed the deficit to 19-17 with 9:16 before halftime. A 3-point play by junior Jordan Goodwin pushed the Billikens back out by 5 points before a 3-point play by junior Levi Stockard III and a free throw by Sloan closed the Wildcats to within 22-21 with 6:55 left.
A 3-pointer by junior Mike McGuirl tied the score at 24-all at the 5:21 mark then another triple, this one by DaJuan Gordon, gave K-State its first lead at 27-26 with 4:02 to play. Two free throws by McGuirl gave the Wildcats its largest lead at 29-26 with 3:34 before halftime but a 3-pointer by Weaver knotted it at 29-all just over a minute later. Saint Louis took a 31-29 lead on two free throws by freshman Terrence Hargrove, Jr., but senior Makol Mawien tied it at 31-all with 29 seconds.
The Billikens connected on 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the field in the first, including 42.9 percent (3-of-7) from 3-point range, while the Wildcats hit on 40 percent (10-of-25), including 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from long range. Hargrove, Jr., led all scorers with 8 points off the bench, while Sneed paced the Wildcats with 6 points.
Freshman Antonio Gordon gave K-State a 33-31 lead 76 seconds into the second half with 2 free throws, but Saint Louis rattled off 6 straight points to take a 37-33 lead into the first media timeout at the 15:41 mark.
The Billikens held the lead until Diarra connected on his second 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 41-40 edge with 12:29 remaining. However, once again, the Billikens responded with 6 consecutive points to take a 46-43 lead at the 10:30 mark.
K-State slowly chipped away at the deficit before back-to-back buckets by Stockard gave the Wildcats a 49-48 lead with under 8 to play. The two teams traded the lead over the next few minutes, battling through five ties, before freshman Yuri Collins’ driving layup gave Saint Louis a 65-63 lead with 2:02 remaining.
The Wildcats had 3 turnovers down the stretch, but the Billikens didn’t completely shut the door, as Sneed’s 3-point was just off the mark that wouldn’t tied the game with 2 seconds to play.
K-State connected on 53.3 percent (8-of-15) in the second half, including 40 percent (2-of-5) from 3-point range, while Saint Louis hit on 45.8 percent (11-of-24), including 28.6 percent (2-of-7) from long range. Stockard led all scorers with 12 points after halftime, while junior Javonte Perkins led the Billikens with 11 points.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Junior Levi Stockard III led all scorers with a career-high 17 points on 5-of-5 field goals and 7-of-9 free throws, as the St. Louis native scored in double figures for the first time in his career in 28 minutes.
Junior David Sloan gave K-State a lift of the bench, dishing out a season-best 8 assists in 28 minutes.
STAT(S) OF THE GAME
13 – After posting 9 assists on 10 made field goals with just 5 turnovers in the first half, K-State suffered just 5 assists on 8 made field goals in the second half while turning the ball over 13 times.