Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bellarmine Dominates Minnesota State Moorhead to Advance to the Final Four

Bellarmine University 92
Minnesota State Moorhead 75

Final from Evansville, Indiana

NCAA Division II Tournament - Quarterfinals

Game recap by BU:

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The flood of Bellarmine University men's basketball faithful turned the Ford Center into a literal Knights Nation.

And utter domination is what they witnessed from the Knights.

It happened throughout the Midwest Regional of the Division II NCAA Tournament. And it happened again on Wednesday night in the Elite Eight. The Knights played every bit of what they steadfastly refer to as "Bellarmine basketball," which typically results in a mind-boggling efficiency that gradually decimates the hope of opponents.

The target Wednesday was fourth-ranked Minnesota State University-Moorhead, a formidable group that entered with a glittering 35-3 record and left with a 92-75 defeat against the third-ranked Knights that equaled their most lopsided loss of the season.

"These players have deserved every ounce of the credit all year, and that doesn't change tonight," lauded BU Coach Scott Davenport.

The Knights have now marched into the Final Four for the third time in five years behind wins of 24, 26, nine and 17 points. They are 31-3 but their most difficult challenge lies ahead in the form of top-ranked Florida Southern, which edged BU 101-96 in overtime at Knights Hall in mid-December. The two heavyweights will meet at 9:30 p.m. (ET), 8:30 p.m. (CT) on Thursday. Florida Southern defeated Southern New Hampshire 81-70 just ahead of Bellarmine's game.

"I remember after we lost," recalled senior forward Jake Thelen, "we said, 'We'll see them again.'"

Getting reacquainted will occur because Bellarmine was nearly unstoppable against Minnesota State Moorhead. The Knights shot a blistering 60.7 percent from the floor, setting the standard for an electrifying performance by draining 67.9 percent of their shots before halftime. The "comedown" in the second half was 54.5 percent shooting. The Dragons kept pace before the intermission with impressive 52.9 percent shooting, but they dropped to 40.7 percent in the second half and were left in the rearview mirror by the Knights.

"We're in a rhythm right now," said Thelen, who poured in a game-high 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting and clutched a game-best eight rebounds, "and we have great shooters and passers."

The Knights sure did verify that statement from their consensus All-American.

Senior guard Chris Whitehead scored 18 points and dished out five assists. Sophomore forward Josh Derksen matched him with 18 points. Sophomore guard Rusty Troutman buried all three of his 3-pointers in scoring 11 points with four rebounds and three assists. Junior forward George Suggs added eight points and senior guard Corbin Maynard chipped in six.

Complete Recap

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