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In their first game without Goodwin, their second-leading scorer (11.5 points per game), the Billikens beat Richmond 72-66 on the road Saturday. Saint Louis played a seven-man rotation. The reserves played 35 minutes.
“We’re going to need everybody to step up, no question,” coach Travis Ford told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You deal with different things throughout the season, and guys have to step up whatever the occasion may be. That will be our approach.”
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Saint Louis (15-12, 8-6) has won seven of its last nine games to put itself in position to grab one of the top four seeds in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. The Billikens sit alone in fourth place with four games to play. They’re one game ahead of three teams tied for fifth (Virginia Commonwealth, St. Josephs and Richmond) and two games ahead of Dayton (12-14, 6-8), La Salle and George Mason.
Goodwin scored six points in a 75-65 victory against Dayton on Jan. 27 in St. Louis. Javon Bess, who scored 20, and Jalen Johnson, who had 16, gave Dayton bigger problems.
“They’re another team with changing defenses that was problematic for us,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “And they’re probably one of the more physical teams in our league. Being able to handle those two things was problematic for us at their place. We struggled with that. I think we had turnovers that created easy opportunities for them as well.”
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Saint Louis made 9 of 18 3-pointers and broke open a close game in the final eight minutes. Dayton's 3-point defense has continued to hurt it. Opponents shot 40 percent or better from long range against Dayton six games in a row. That streak ended Saturday when Fordham made 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) in a game Dayton won 80-70 at UD Arena.
Dayton’s scoring defense has fallen into a tie for 11th in A-10 games (76.7 points per game). Dayton’s field-goal percentage defense (47.0) and 3-point defense (39.8) rank second-to-last in the conference.
“Defense wins games,” Dayton guard Jalen Crutcher said. “We’ve got to play really hard defense. We kind of did that at (Saint Louis) in the beginning and we relaxed.”
Saint Louis at Dayton, ESPNU, FM 95.7, AM 1290 WHIO