Thursday, January 16, 2003

Billikens don't have answer for Stokes

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - The lone link to Cincinnati's dominant past was once again the go-to guy.

Leonard Stokes had a season-best 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists, fueling a pullaway run at the start of the second half as UC beat Saint Louis 66-56 on Wednesday night.

Stokes had seven points in a 14-4 run to start the second half, turning a 33-30 advantage into a 47-34 bulge with 13:34 to go.

"That was kind of the turning point, when they were able to stretch the game," said Saint Louis assistant coach Anthony Beane. "From that point on, we were playing an uphill battle against a really good ballclub."

It was the third straight impressive game for Stokes, who had 10 of his 20 points in the final 6:33 of a victory over Texas Christian on Saturday and helped clinch a victory over DePaul with five points in the last three minutes.

"He's been trying to get everybody else involved," coach Bob Huggins said. "He has scored when we had to have him score. I think he understands when he's got to grab it and make a play."

Stokes entered the season by far the most experienced player on the Conference USA preseason favorites with 49 career starts, while the rest of the team combined for four starts.

"Coach ain't going to ask me to do nothing I can't do," said Stokes.

Despite the win, Huggins was far from satisfied.

"We'll probably have a new starting lineup on Saturday, if that tells you anything," Huggins said. "They don't seem to have the same kind of purpose that our kids have in the past."

Saint Louis was without head coach Brad Soderberg, who was at home with a case of stomach flu. Beane, in his first year with the school, served as the fill-in head coach.

"As an assistant, you hope you have that opportunity one day to be in those shoes, but you don't want it when it comes under these circumstances," Beane said. "This is a really tough time for him and his family, and I know he must really be ill to have to miss this game."

Marque Perry had 20 points and Josh Fisher 18 for Saint Louis (6-8, 0-3), which collapsed in the second half for the second straight game. The Billikens led by two points at the break before losing 73-54 Saturday at Louisville, and also have lost two straight at home.

Izik Ohanon, a 6-9 sophomore, struggled in his first start for the Billikens after coming off the bench his first five games. Ohanon, who was ineligible the first eight games because he played for a professional team in Israel, was held to one point and five rebounds in 18 minutes.

"I don't know if it was a step back for Izik or not," Beane said. " He's just been up and down and it's going to take just tons and tons of experience for him to get it going."

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