The No. 3 Bellarmine University men’s basketball team opened its 2017-18 regular season with an 83-75 victory over Saginaw Valley State in the GLIAC-GLVC Challenge at the University of Indianapolis’ Nicoson Hall on Friday afternoon.
The Knights built a 17-point lead in the early stages of the second half, then held off an SVSU comeback attempt by knocking down seven of eight free throws in the final 38 seconds.
Four different players scored in double figures for Bellarmine, led by Jarek Coles with 14. Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport utilized 11 players in the game with 10 Knights logging 13 minutes or more, which was partially caused by injuries to starters Tyler Jenkins and Adam Eberhard. (Both are expected to be back in the lineup for tomorrow’s game.)
“I’m proud of the guys in terms of playing without Adam and Tyler, but from a basketball standpoint, there’s so much that needs to be corrected,” Davenport said, referring to mistakes his team made that were not caused by Saginaw Valley.
The game opened with Bellarmine scoring the first five points, but the Cardinals came back to take a 16-8 at the 12:51 mark of the first half. The Knights quickly erased the deficit and after Daniel Ramser’s short jumper in the lane gave BU a 20-18, they never trailed again.
By halftime the Knights had extended their lead to 41-29 as they shot 57 percent and were paced by Chivarksy Corbett and Brent Bach with seven points apiece in the opening 20 minutes.
Coming out in the second half, Bellarmine saw its lead grow to 17 at the 17:05 mark on a Coles’ layup. However, the Cardinals didn’t go quietly, trimming the lead to just five on two occasions including at the 50-second mark.
Freshman guard CJ Fleming came up big down the stretch for the Knights, scoring eight of his 10 points in the final 1:07 and going 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
Joining Fleming and Coles in double figures for the Knights were Corbett with 11 and Ramser with 10. The Cardinals were paced by Mike Wells, Jr., who scored a game-high 18 points.
Bellarmine outshot SVSU 57 percent to 44 percent and held a slim 32-31 rebounding edge. However, the Cardinals held a 13-6 advantage in second chance points after hauling in 12 offensive rebounds.
The Knights are right back in action tomorrow at 3 p.m. when they face Northwood on the second day of the GLIAC-GLVC Challenge in UIndy’s Nicoson Hall.
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by John Spugnardi