ST. LOUIS – Senior night. It still puts a lump in your throat. This is the last run. The last go-round.
One more night, under the lights, in front of YOUR crowd. For Rasheed Anthony, Aaron Hines, and Davell Roby, Saturday night was supposed to be their night.
All three got the starting nod in a consequential home closer against A-10 Conference foe St. Bonaventure. Could they write the story book ending to a tumultuous season in the STL? Could they put a ribbon on what were three very different careers?
The difference between and win and loss meant three spots in the standings, and either a double bye, or a 7th place finish and a serious gauntlet of an A-10 tournament. The first half was a typical Billiken half. 6 turnovers 7 missed free throws. The energy was intense, the flow better than usual, but still only 25 points after 20 minutes of basketball and a six-point deficient to climb.
The second half was more of the same. You can go deeper into numbers and situational defense, poor shot selection, et cetera. But, in the end, St. Bonaventure is simply a better basketball team. St. Louis has only seven scholarship players left, and only six Coach Ford is willing to play more than ten minutes. Try as you might, you’re not going to win many more games than you lose.
And tonight, the L got hung on the scoreboard, and there was no joy in Lou-Ville. Yes, there were huge threes, there was a run and a lead cut to four, but it wasn’t enough. And it hasn’t been enough too many times this season. A 64-56 loss for a record of 16-15, 9-9, and a seventh-place A-10 Finish.
But, it’s just the end of home careers. The A-10 Tourney sits out beyond the horizon of the next 8 days. When you’re in a tournament there’s nothing that can’t happen.
The Billikens defense will keep them in every game they play. But, this season will come down to what every game for SLU has come down to; Turnovers and their ability to get buckets.
If they can find a way to get to 70 points they could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament. But, if they barely crack 50, as is too often the case, they will be back in the dorms before spring break.
Until then, long live senior night.