Wildcats Mount a Comeback Against Saint Louis
What a way to start out the New Year. It had been almost a month since the Wildcats played on their home court when they came into Belk Arena on Wednesday night. Hopes were that the team would return warm and refreshed after a trip to Hawaii during the holidays to play in the Diamond Head Classic. However, hopes and reality seemed to be pretty far apart during the first half of the game.
The Saint Louis Billikins used an “in your face” trapping zone defense for much of the first half that left a lot of the Wildcat faithful wondering about their Cats. The Wildcats went to the locker room with an 11-point deficit and an unusually quiet crowd. They were zero for 12 from the 3-point line and had only scored 22 points on 32 percent shooting.
Head coach Travis Ford, and the Billikins came into Belk Arena picked to finished last in the A-10 this year. However, just a few nights earlier the Wildcats struggled in their A-10 opener at the University of Richmond. In that game, the Cats shot 36 percent and lost by 11 to the 3-9 Spiders, who were without last year’s A10 player of the year T.J. Kline.
But now the Wildcats were back on McKillop Court where they set a record in November with 26 threes in completely overwhelming performance against Costal Carolina.
While we don’t know what Coach McKillop told the team at half time, the first 50 seconds of the second half told the story. Both Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Oskar Michelsen hit 3-pointers from the corners. The Billikens called a quick time-out, but the momentum of game had already shifted.
Six of KiShawn Pritchett’s career best 10 assists came in the second half and the Cats scrappy defense held Saint Louis without a field goal for the last 11 minutes of the game. Peyton Aldridge finished with a game high 21 points and A-10 Rookie of the week, Kellen Grady, added 14 as the Cats held on for a 54-51 win and much better feeling to welcome in 2018 in John Belk Arena.