Cassity scored a game-high 16 points as Saint Louis defeated visiting Division II Rockhurst 72-45 on Monday night at Chaifetz Arena.
“I really just take what comes to me,” Cassity said. “I’m not trying too hard to do too much but in the last couple of games it’s working.”
Saint Louis University (1-1) had three players score in double-figures. Freshman center Rob Loe had 16 points and game-high nine rebounds, while sophomore forward Cody Ellis came off the bench to score 10.
Cassity averaged 1.6 points per game as a freshman and 6 per game as a sophomore — which ranked sixth on the team — when he started 29 of 36 games.
With the departure of the two leading scorers from last year’s team, guard Kwamain Mitchell and forward Willie Reed, the Billikens needed someone to emerge as the go-to scorer.
Cassity scored a team-high 16 points and dished out five assists in the season-opening 64-62 loss to visiting Austin Peay on Friday.
“He just looks to attack more off the ball screens I feel like,” junior forward Brian Conklin said. “He was also probing, looking to pass but now he’s looking to pass but if it is going to open up like that for him he’s going to pull-up and take a couple jumpers like he did tonight. That’s what we want him to do. That’s what he’s started to do and it looks like it’s paying off. I nag on him. He’s my roommate, so I let him know about it.”
SLU used an 8-0 run, including a steal and a two-handed dunk by Cassity, to establish a 22-12 lead with 6 minutes and 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
But Rockhurst (0-1) rallied for an 11-2 run, including nine points from Aaron Morrissey (game-high 14 points), to cut the deficit to 24-23 with 3:17 left and the Billikens led 28-27 at halftime.
Saint Louis put the game away in the second half.
“The defense picked up in the second half,” Cassity said, “which is what I thought won the game.”
The hosts opened the second half with six straight points as part of a 12-2 run to take control of the game. The Billikens later used a 13-4 run, including four points from Cassity, to push their lead to 18 with 9:11 left.
“The effort and energy was real good in the second half,” SLU coach Rick Majerus said. “We’re bigger and stronger. We should win that game.”
Saint Louis U. scored the final 10 points of the game, including two 3-pointers from Ellis, to stretch its lead to the biggest of the game at 27.
The Billikens will now quickly turn their attention to Georgia (1-0), which comes to Chaifetz Arena on Saturday for a 7 p.m. non-conference game.
“There’s not a team on the schedule, including (Rockhurst), that’s not capable of beating us and some are capable of pummeling us,” Majerus said. “But if you are a basketball fan on Saturday night it doesn’t get any better in terms of the opposition that’s coming in here and the quality of players.”