Atlantic City, NJ (Sports Network) - Mike McCall Jr. led the way with 16 points as the Saint Louis Billikens downed the La Salle Explorers, 78-71, in an Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal at Boardwalk Hall.
Kwamain Mitchell added 15 points and seven assists for the Billikens (25-6), while Brian Conklin finished with 14 points and Jordair Jett chipped in 13 points.
Earl Pettis led the Explorers (21-12) with 18 points, while Ramon Galloway scored 14 points and Tyreek Duren finished with 13 points.
Saint Louis jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the opening minutes. La Salle was able to counter with 11-straight points to cut their deficit 14-13, but the Billikens were able to maintain their advantage for the rest of the half and took a 35-29 lead into the break. Saint Louis shot 44.8 percent in the first half, including 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. La Salle struggled, making only 37.5 percent of their field goals, but did connect on 4-of-9 from three-point range.
After halftime, the Explorers improved their shooting efficiency from the floor, and hit on 54.2 percent of their attempts. Saint Louis stayed consistent and shot 44.4 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. Saint Louis led by 12 points midway through the second half, but La Salle recovered and again trailed by only one, 57-56, with under five minutes to play, but they would get no closer, as the Billikens held on for the victory.
Saint Louis outscored La Salle in the paint, 30-18. The Explorers were able to convert the Billikens' 15 turnovers into 17 points.
The Billikens will face either No. 3 Xavier or No. 6 Dayton the semifinals on Saturday.
The Sports Network