Saint Louis Billikens head coach Rick Majerus -- Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
(KSDK Sports) -- Their former coach, Rick Majerus, wouldn't have wanted it any other way, but for the St. Louis men's basketball team, the game must go on. Today, the Billikens will play with a heavy heart as they play their first game, less then 24 hours after Majerus' passing. Today they'll take on the strong Valparaiso Crusaders looking to continue their hot start.
Rick Majerus, who won more than 70 percent of his games as a men's college basketball coach and took Utah to the 1998 national championship game, died Saturday at age 64.
Majerus' girlfriend, Angie Kvidera, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that Majerus died Saturday in Los Angeles.
The final on-court chapter in Majerus' career was a fitting one: a 65-61 loss in a taut chess match against another of the sport's great bench coaches, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Majerus concluded a 25-year head coaching career - which included stops at his alma mater Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis - with a 517-215 record. He reached the NCAA tournament 12 times, most notably leading Utah to the 1998 national title game before losing to Kentucky. Last season he took the Billikens to the NCAAs for the first time in 12 years.
Vaparaiso won their third straight with a 77-64 victory over Bethune-Cookman as both ends of the court continue to perform at a high level.
The Crusaders put the Wildcats upset hopes on the back burner early with a 44-28 lead after 20 minutes before going in to cruise control. Valpo torched the nets at 54.8% marksmanship and hit 8-15 from distance while holding a 33-19 edge on the glass.
The Crusaders also held a 23-12 advantage on the line and had the best player on the floor in Ryan Broekhoff who poured in 30 points and ripped down seven rebounds with Kevin Van Wijk adding 19 points with eight yanks while Will Bogan chipped in with eleven points.
A hot shooting Washington overcame injuries and St Louis with a 66-61 victory. The Billikens couldn't take advantage of a banged up Huskies club that stuck with five players for the most part. UW simply didn't miss much with 51.1% shooting overall including 6-10 from beyond the arc while the Billikens checked in at 43.9% and were 9-23 on threes which kept things close throughout.
One area Saint Louis fell short was at the line where they had only three attempts compared to 22 for the Huskies. Cody Ellis led the Billikens with 14 points followed by 13 points and five pulls from Rob Loe while Mike McCall and Jordair Jett added eleven points each and combined for 12 assists.