The St. Louis Bilikens hadn't had a lead since the one-minute mark of the first half until Jordair Jett, likely A-10 player of the year, drove past three UMass defenders to get to the basket and convert an athletic lay-in to gave SLU the 64-62 win.
The UMass Minutemen finished their regular season with a record of 23-7 overall and 10-6 in the A-10. Saint Louis ended their three-game skid and captured the regular season A-10 title with the win, improving to 26-5, 13-3.
Jordair Jett and his dreadlocks led the Bilikens with 17 points, including six straight points to close out the game. His ball-handling was equally importan as he didn't commit any of SLU's 13 turnovers.
Senior Day didn't quite go as planned for the three seniors -- Chaz Williams, Raphiael Putney, and Sampson Carter --and the sellout crowd of 9,493. Williams shot the ball extremely well from the field going 57 percent from the floor as he scored a game high 20 points and distributed seven assists. On his first assist of the game Chaz went into sole possession of first place on UMass' all-time assist list.
Putney and Carter struggled to shoot the ball, each going 2-for-10 from the field. Putney had 5 points, including his first 3-pointer in six games, but was a factor on the defensive end snagging seven rebounds and sending a pair of Biliken shots back. He was also able to force SLU into two offensive fouls. Carter had eight points and hit all four of his free-throw attempts.
The first half was a see-saw battle from both teams with 10 lead changes and no team leading by more than seven.
SLU jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, scoring on each of its first four possessions. After a Derek Kellogg timeout, UMass went on a 10-0 run fueled by back to back 3-point field goals from Williams. UMass was able to quicken the pace early but eventually the Bilikens were able to slow the game down to their speed and scoring rate.
The Minutemen were able to avoid foul trouble in the first half and wasn't called for one until there was 9:56 left in the first half.
Cady Lalanne had another quiet game scoring eight points and only grabbing five rebounds, but he was the recipient of Williams' record-breaking assist.
Mike McCall Jr. picked up two quick fouls early in the first half but was able to stay out of further foul trouble and managed to chip in 12 points and five rebounds for SLU.
Trey Davis, who had been arguably the best player for UMass over the past few games, was said to be feeling under the weather for the game and it showed. Davis failed to record a single bucket in the game and only had two assists and a pair of boards.
UMass scored the last four points of the half to take a 35-33 thanks to a Putney jumper. The Minutemen came out of the break playing as well as they looked in their crisp grey alternate short sleeved uniforms.
Maxie Esho provided his usual boost off the bench as he had four of his six points in the second half. More importantly he provided defensive pressure on the Bilikens and was able to force multiple turnovers.
UMass was able to push their lead as high as seven after Derrick Gordon had five straight points to push the lead to 56-49 with 5:50 left in the game.
Gordon had 15 points as he helped to pick up the offensive slack left by Davis' play. He also forced two steals and had a monstrous block pinning the ball against the backboard.
Saint Louis went on a 7-0 run tying the game at 56 with 3:15 to go thanks to a Dwayne Evans jumper.
Evans had 14 points and was a key factor down the stretch of the game. But he did lead the Bilikens with four turnovers.
Williams hit a jump shot to give UMass a 62-60 lead with 1:18 remaining. Jett then hit two driving layup that looked eerily similar to secure a 64-62 SLU win.
Williams put up a contested three from 30 feet away that bounced off of the right of the rim.
UMass will open A-10 tourney play with a first round match against Rhode Island at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.