Sunday, November 23, 2014

No. 10 Bellarmine Gets Past No. 16 Findlay in Home Opener

(10) Bellarmine 63
(16) Findlay 54

Final from Louisville, Kentucky

Game recap by BU:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Bellarmine University men's basketball team lined up its schedule this season with top 25 opponents. As a result, and because of a gritty performance in their home debut, the Knights have a resume that is already starting to catch the eye.

Four players scored in double figures for No. 10 Bellarmine, and the Knights used smothering defense to fend off No. 16 Findlay in pulling out a 63-54 victory Sunday at Knights Hall in a matchup that featured the 2009 and 2011 Division II national champions.

Bellarmine (3-0) won the latter title and once again has high hopes, which were reaffirmed with Sunday's victory over the Oilers (1-1). Both BU and Findlay were picked to win their respective divisions of the Great Lakes Valley and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conferences. It was the Knights' third straight victory over a GLIAC opponent, as they opened the season on the road with wins over Northwood and Saginaw Valley State.

"It's a game that has postseason ramifications because we were playing an in-region team that is picked to win the GLIAC," BU Coach Scott Davenport said. "This game was like a postseason game, and it was a battle to score a basket. I was really proud of our guys for digging in there when it was really tough."

Indeed, the latest triumph was Bellarmine's most impressive yet of a young season where formidable challenges are expected to occur on a weekly basis. BU kicked off its home slate with a whiteout, and a sea of fans made Knights Hall resemble campus after last week's snowstorm.

"The crowd was phenomenal," Davenport said. "This is a really special place — big kudos to the fans."

Senior guard Chris Whitehead shook off a rough night at the free throw line to post outstanding numbers, tossing in a team-high 14 points with four assists, four steals and four rebounds. Fellow transfer and senior guard Josh Sewell chipped in 12 points, senior forward and preseason All-American Jake Thelan barely missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore forward Josh Derksen added 10 points and five rebounds. Like Whitehead, sophomore guard Rusty Troutman did a little of everything, posting nine rebounds, seven points, five assists and two steals.

While Bellarmine got contributions from a variety of sources on offense, it was the Knights' defense that led them to their 3-0 start. BU limited Findlay to 32.2 percent shooting, including only 27.3 percent in the second half. Tyler Stern-Tucker notched a game-high 19 points, but he was only the Oilers' player to reach double figures. Findlay attempted a bevy of 3-pointers, connecting on just eight of their 25 chances (32.0 percent).

"They are tough and well-coached. We said it all week," Davenport said. "Holding them to 27 percent shooting in the second half is the first key (to our win). The second key was the last five possessions, they scored just one time. We did win it with defense."

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