NCAA BK

No. 23 Saint Louis handles Portland 73-53

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ST. LOUIS (AP)

For the first 101/2 minutes, Portland stayed right with No. 23 Saint Louis. The deficit was just three points.

Then, as coach Eric Reveno noted, "the bottom fell out a little bit."

Brian Conklin made all seven shots with a strong inside game and scored 19 points in a 73-53 victory in Saint Louis' first home game as a ranked team since 1994 on Saturday night.

Portland lost a week earlier at top-ranked Kentucky. Saint Louis' big first half convinced Reveno that the Billikens are better.

"We've played some good teams and they're the most skilled and toughest team that we've probably played in terms of execution and just good basketball," Reveno said. "Would they win at Kentucky? I'm not going to say that. But I think they're very good."

Portland has had a tough early schedule, also losing to Washington and Washington State.The Pilots were picked to finish seventh in the West Coast Conference.

Cody Ellis had 16 points and Kyle Cassity and Mike McCall added 10 apiece for the Billikens (7-1), who had a 25-3 run in the first half and led by 26 early in the second. Those three combined for Saint Louis' seven 3-pointers, with Cassity going 3 for 5.

The Billikens could drop out of the Top 25 after losing at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night in their fourth game in six days, but have a good chance to beef up the record with the next five also at home against beatable opponents.

Thomas van der Mars had 12 points before fouling out with 6:30 remaining for Portland (3-5), which has lost five of six. Nemania Mitrovic, Portland's leading scorer with an 11.9-point average, was held to two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

"It was primarily turnovers that were our downfall," Reveno said. "Against a great team on their court, you don't have any margin for error."

Ellis, Saint Louis' sixth man, didn't play a minute due to defensive concerns in the school's loss at Loyola Marymount.

Portland committed 12 of its 16 turnovers in the first half, and also missed five of its first six from the free throw line. Portland's 16 first-half points and the final total were both season worsts.

The Pilots outscored Saint Louis 37-35 in the second half.

"We were running uphill with all kinds of different lineups and just kind of junking it up a little bit in the second half," Reveno said. "I liked how we hung in there."

All five of Saint Louis' first-half 3-pointers came in the 25-3 run that made it 37-12 with just under 2 minutes to go, and the Billikens led 38-16 at the break.

Portland was in it the first 101/2 minutes, trailing 12-9, but was down 37-12 after Mike McCall's 3-pointer with 1:52 to go. The Pilots were 1 for 6 at the free throw line, committed 12 turnovers and got off only 17 shots against Saint Louis' half-court pressure.

Portland had one turnover the first eight minutes of the second half, helping cut the deficit to 15 at 50-35. Ryan Nicholas and Tanner Riley added 11 apiece for the Pilots.

Tagged: Saint Louis, Mike McCall Jr., Portland

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