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Big games by Francis Okoro, Sincere Parker lift SLU over La Salle

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SLU hosts George Mason at Chaifetz

St. Louis University's Francis Okoro drives under George Mason's Josh Oduro in the first half at Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

The first half for St. Louis University on Saturday was a case of the Billikens needing to find weapons other than the usual suspects to stay in a game.

Francis Okoro and Sincere Parker stepped up and carried that throughout the game to help SLU to an 84-71 win over La Salle at Chaifetz Arena.

Okoro recorded the 17th 20-rebound game in SLU history and scored 12 points, and Parker scored a career-high 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting as the Billikens posted their fifth consecutive win.

Javonte Perkins, Gibson Jimerson and Yuri Collins combined for six points in the first half before all contributed as SLU (14-6 overall, 6-1 in the Atlantic 10) pulled away down the stretch.

Collins finished with 17 points and 11 assists.

After La Salle scored the first seven points of the second half, SLU responded with a 12-0 run to take its largest lead. Javonte Perkins was the catalyst after a scoreless first half.

He made a short jumper and followed with a 3-pointer before adding two free throws that put the Billikens on top 45-39. However, the cushion was short-lived as the Explorers quickly cut the gap to two. But they had only one field goal in the next four minutes.

SLU responded with a stretch that put the Billikens in good position. Collins scored twice followed by Parker and the Billikens were on their way to a 60-49 lead that La Salle was unable to threaten.

SLU found itself in a tussle almost immediately. La Salle’s offense was operating at a high level most of the first 20 minutes as the Explorers recorded 11 assists on their 13 field goals and at one point opened a 10-point lead.

But they made just two of their last 11, allowing the Billikens to make a run as they caught La Salle and then took a 33-32 lead at the break on a putback by Okoro.

He had 14 rebounds in the first half, including eight on the offensive boards. All three of his field goals before the break came on offensive putbacks.

The rest of SLU’s offense to open the game was carried by Terrence Hargrove Jr. and Parker. Hargrove scored the first seven points for the Billikens. Parker came off the bench to make a couple of circus shots at the rim and score eight in the half.

La Salle bottled up Jimerson in the half. He took only two shots and no 3-pointers and scored two points. Perkins and Collins had two points as well in the half.

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