Freshman forward Dwayne Evans had a game-high 16 points and 14 rebounds to lead Saint Louis to a 67-51 victory over visiting Saint Joseph’s in an Atlantic 10 Conference contest at Chaifetz Arena.
“The guys played their heart out,” Majerus said. “They played with a lot of hustle. They played with great intensity. They did a good job.”
Majerus, who had missed three games after suffering a laceration on his leg in the second half of a loss to Bowling Green on Jan. 1, returned to practice on Friday after the team returned from two games in Pennsylvania.
“I feel OK,” Majerus said after Saturday’s win. “I feel good.”
SLU associate head coach Porter Moser filled in while Majerus was out.
“This is all Porter (Moser) and the coaches,” Majerus said. “I just showed up at practice the last couple days. They did everything. They did an excellent job. This is a victory for Porter, and staff. And for players who really played hard.”
Majerus, who missed the three games after developing an infection, was quick to credit Moser and assistant coaches Alex Jensen and Chris Harriman for the work they put in while he was recovering. Moser also filled in for Majerus on Dec. 24 in Cancun when the coach missed a game with an illness.
“I cannot say enough about Porter and Al (Jensen) and Harry (Chris Harriman) and those guys,” he said. “I just showed up. All I did was I showed up. I did nothing. Those guys did it all. They’ve done a terrific job. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances. What can you do?”
Saint Louis U. officials said Majerus is expected to travel with the team when the Billikens travel to Fordham for a game on Wednesday night.
SLU is now 6-11 overall and 1-3 in conference play after snapping the six-game losing skid and a stretch of eight losses in 10 games.
“That was one we really, really needed,” junior guard Kyle Cassity said. “We really needed this one and we need every one from here on out. This was a good one to get us back on the right track and after losing so many straight it feels good to come out on top.”
Cassity and sophomore reserve forward Cory Remekun each scored 12 points in the win. That was a season-high for Remekun, who made eight of 10 free throw attempts and added five rebounds and two blocks.
Cassity said it was good to have Majerus back on the sideline.
“He knows so much,” Cassity said. “It’s a lift for us. He was there. We had two new faces on the side today. We had Kwamain (Mitchell) there too. It was good to see those guys. Coach really didn’t do much. He was still nursing his leg and stuff. Coach (Porter) Moser and the rest of them took the lead there, at least for this game, but I think he’ll be back for the majority of what’s to come.”
Mitchell, who was SLU’s leading scorer last season at 15.9 points per game, was on the bench for the first time after rejoining the team. Mitchell was readmitted into school last week after being suspended before the start of practice for a violation of the student code of conduct.
Mitchell, a junior point guard, has not yet been cleared by the NCAA to play, but it is possible he will sit out the remainder of the season as a redshirt and then have two full years of eligibility remaining.
Willie Reed, who was also suspended at the same time of Mitchell, made an appearance at Chaifetz Arena on Saturday. The junior center was “conditionally readmitted” to the school recently, but is suspended from the basketball program until further notice.
Reed showed up during the second half on Saturday and sat in the student section after fans chanted his name. Like Mitchell, he could have two years of eligibility remaining beginning next season.