New York • His Saint Louis teammates have a simple explanation for Dwayne Evans’ sophisticated low-post moves: He can’t dunk.
The 6-foot-5 forward has soared while staying close to the ground at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, carrying the Billikens to their first title game.
Championship No. 16 Saint Louis vs. No. 25 VCUSunday, 11 a.m.
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Evans nearly set a career high in points for the second straight day, and No. 16 Saint Louis’ defense locked down Butler in the second half for a 67-56 win Saturday.
"Don’t be fooled," Evans said after forward Cody Ellis joked about his lack of leaping ability. "It’s just a choice. I like the ground game. I don’t know. I’m going to go out and dunk on them all just to prove you wrong on that one."
Saint Louis (26-6) faces VCU (26-7) on Sunday in a matchup of the league’s top two teams during the regular season.
Evans had 24 points and 11 rebounds after going for 25 and nine in the quarterfinals against Charlotte. He’s 15 for 19 from the floor and 18 of 20 from the foul line in the tournament.
Interim coach Jim Crews listed all the reasons he’s so effective. Strength. Broad shoulders. Good touch. No fear of contact.
"Some guys have a feel for where the bucket is," Crews said. "It sounds stupid because that bucket doesn’t move, but you’ve got to have a sense."
Coming to New York City is the perfect way for an undersized star and an underappreciated team to recruit some new fans. Top-seeded Saint Louis (26-6) beat the Bulldogs for the third time this season.
Butler, the national runner-up in 2010 and ’11, may be the bigger name, but the Billikens have been the class of the A-10 in 2013.
"I’ve said all year long to the people that have listened — and some that don’t — how good they are," Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said. "They are a legitimate contender for the whole thing. I believe that wholeheartedly. They’ve got eight guys that are all strong, big, physical, tough, smart, skilled basketball players, and you don’t need anything else if you’re all together, and they’ve got it all."
No. 25 VCU 71, UMass 62 • Rob Brandenberg’s contested 3-pointer from the corner with the shot clock about to expire might go down as the worst shot VCU attempted against UMass on Saturday.
It was also the Rams’ biggest basket.
Brandenberg finally gave No. 25 VCU some breathing room against the pesky Minutemen, and the Rams won to reach the Atlantic 10 Tournament title game in their first season in the conference.
Troy Daniels made six 3-pointers to score 20 points, and the Rams forced 24 turnovers.
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