March 5, 2004
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS - Phillip Hunt forced overtime on the putback of a desperation air ball at the buzzer and Josh Fisher had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead Saint Louis to a 72-69 overtime victory over Houston Friday night.
Saint Louis had trailed by 20 points with 12 minutes left in regulation.
The Billikens (16-11, 9-7) rebounded from a 17-point first half deficit - its worst of the season - after coach Brad Soderberg ordered them into a full-court press for the first time. The tactic helped Saint Louis climb back from a nine-point deficit in the final minute of regulation capped by Hunt's basket of Fisher's long heave.
Saint Louis never led until overtime, where it clinched the victory in its regular-season finale at the free throw line. The Billikens were 8-for-10 at the line in the extra period, and Fisher was 4-for-6 in the final 34 seconds.
Soderberg went to the press with about eight minutes left and Houston leading 45-30. The tactic revived a sluggish team minus two of its stars.
Hunt started in place of Reggie Bryant, at home in Houston after his father suffered a stroke. Tom Frericks, the team's top rebounder, also is out with a separated shoulder.
Fisher, Chris Sloan and Izik Ohanon carried the load in their absence. Sloan had 21 points, one off his career best, before fouling out with 50 seconds to go in regulation. Ohanon had 18 points and three blocked shots.
Nothing went right for Saint Louis at the start, not even the National
Anthem. There were two versions, the second by senior Ross Varner, then the
Billikens missed their first five shots and had three turnovers before Sloan
hit a 3-pointer with 14 minutes to go.