St. Louis University battled back from 19 points at halftime to cut UMass' lead to five in the second half, but the Billikens were done in by abysmal afternoon of free throw shooting and had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 72-59 defeat in Amherst, Mass.
SLU made just eight of 19 free throws, a meager 42.1 percent, as they dropped out of first place in the Atlantic 10. SLU is 16-5, 4-3, while UMass remains at the top at 16-5, 5-2.
Brian Conklin, who was held out of the starting lineup after rolling his ankle in practice on Friday but still played most of the game, led SLU with 17 points, but he made just three of seven free throws. Jordair Jett had 13 points, but he made just one of five free throws. But it was a tough shooting afternoon for many of SLU's other players. Dwayne Evans made 2 of 12 shots, Cody Ellis made 3 of 10 and Kwamain Mitchell made 2 of 9.
SLU got itself in an early hole with nine first-half turnovers, while the Minutemen shot 65.5 percent from the field in the first half. Predictably, UMass' numbers came down in the second half, as they shot 28.6 percent, but SLU made just 5 of 12 free throws while UMass made 15 of 16.
UMass closed out the first half with a 9-0 run that broke open the game. SLU slowly chipped away at the lead in the second half, and cut the gap to 56-51 with 5:28 to play. But Mitchell fouled UMass' Chaz Williams on a 3-point try with 4:57 to play and Williams, who finished with 19 points, made all three. Jett then missed three of four free throws over two possessions while UMass scored twice and the lead was back to 11 with 4 minutes to go and SLU didn't get closer than six the rest of the way.