Monday, November 10, 2014

Louisville Blows By Bellarmine in Exhibition Action

Louisville 82
Bellarmine 57

Exhibition Final from Louisville, Kentucky

Game recap by BU:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A lot may have gone wrong for the Bellarmine University men's basketball team in the first half of Sunday's exhibition against the University of Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center, but everything was right about the experience that the Knights provided for Patrick McSweeney.

The Cardinals played before halftime what Coach Rick Pitino would later say was the best basketball the Hall of Famer has witnessed from them leading into the 2014-15 regular season, a performance that allowed U of L to build a 49-20 lead en route to an 82-57 victory over the Knights.

Four Cardinals scored in double figures and Bellarmine preseason All-American Jake Thelen posted stellar all-around numbers, but the real star of Sunday's intracity exhibition between the Division I and II programs was McSweeney, a 15-year-old student from St. Xavier High School in Louisville who is battling leukemia.

McSweeney started for the Knights, crouching down in his defensive stance to guard Louisville's Terry Rozier after the Cardinals won the opening tip. McSweeney missed a 3-pointer but stole the ball from Rozier at the other end. He went on to make a layup to the delight of 20,432 fans, who roared with approval, before leaving the game. He would later charm the crowd again when he was interviewed live over the public address system, noting that you can't beat a breakfast of pancakes with the team before suiting up in a Knights jersey and playing against the Cardinals, his two favorite teams.

"What that young man did out there in front of 20,432 (people) took a lot of courage," said BU Coach Scott Davenport, who was an assistant coach under Pitino before taking the helm at Bellarmine. "He is an amazing young man; he is all that's good about young people. It's amazing young people that have opportunities in front of them and mess them up. What that guy would do to have an opportunity like a lot people have and don't take advantage of. This was an experience of a lifetime for our players, Louisville's players and everybody in this community today."

The exhibition marked a clash between two of the highest rated teams in Division I and II in the preseason rankings. Louisville is rated eighth by the Associated Press, while Bellarmine is ranked 10th by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. It was the 17th overall meeting between Bellarmine and Louisville - comprised of 12 regular season games and five exhibitions.

Unfortunately, the latest confrontation got away from the Knights early. Behind hot shooting from guard Chris Jones and an active defense, the Cardinals built leads of 11-2, 18-5 and 26-11. U of L would ultimately shoot 56.7 percent in the first half and hold Bellarmine - Division II's top-shooting team last season - to 32 percent from the floor. Most damaging for the Knights was 1-for-12 accuracy from 3-point range before the intermission.

"When you can keep a team shooting 32 percent and 1 for 12 from the three like Bellarmine, you're playing great defense because - regardless of Division II, Division I, Division III - they score on everybody," Pitino said. "They shoot on everybody and our guys were very focused, very alert with great respect."

Bellarmine didn't have a double-figure scorer, but several Knights hovered in the 10-point range. Thelen scored seven points and led the Knights in rebounding with six and in assists with six. Senior guards Chris Whitehead and Josh Sewell and junior forward George Suggs all tied for the team high with eight points. Sophomore guard Rusty Troutman added seven points and five rebounds, while junior guard Michael Parrish chipped in six points and three steals.

Complete Recap

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