After eliminating a 14-point second half deficit, the Bellarmine Knights couldn’t complete the comeback as the fifth-seeded Lewis Flyers pulled off the upset by the final score of 70-66 in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship Tournament at Family Arena.
The top-seeded Knights suffered an off night shooting but maintained a one point lead at halftime. However, the Flyers came out hot in the second half, drilling six of their first seven 3-point attempts to claim a 14-point lead at the10:59 mark.
Bellarmine slowly battled their way back into contention and took a 66-64 lead with 1:33 remaining. Lewis tied it on the ensuing possession, and a Bellarmine turnover gave the ball to the Flyers with 39 seconds on the clock.
The Flyers’ Max Strus then drew a foul and made two free throws to give Lewis a 68-66 lead with 16 seconds remaining. The Knights came down the floor and got a good look at a 3-pointer, but Josh Derksen‘s attempt from the left wing was just a little strong. Strus rebounded and was immediately fouled with just threee seconds left. The sophomore All-GLVC performer drained both charity tosses to make the final 70-66.
“This game was all about defense,” said Bellarmine CoachScott Davenport. “They (Lewis) shot 48 percent for the game and 54.5 percent from the 3-point line in the second half. Give them credit, because they hit the shots.”
Michael Parrish was a bright spot for the Knights, posting a career high 11 rebounds, meaning the shortest guy on the floor pulled in five more rebounds than the next highest rebounder. The 5-8 senior also hit four of his six shots for eight points and handed out four assists.
Derksen was the leading scorer for the Knights, coming off the bench to pour in 15 points on five of shooting. Rusty Troutman was the only other Bellarmine player to reach double figures, scoring 13-all in the second half.
The Knights shot just 42.3 percent for the game and made just seven of 25 three point attempts. However, their other stats were positive, outrebounding Lewis 31-24 and totaling 17 assists on 22 made baskets.
The Flyers were led by Strus, who dropped in 27 points. He went 7-of-14 from the field, making five of his nine 3-point attempts, and he was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Bellarmine falls to 23-6 on the season while Lewis improves to 23-8.
The Knights now must await word from the NCAA on seeding for the tournament. Those selections will be announced at 10:30 p.m. in a webcast available on NCAA.com.
by John Spugnardi