A defensive rebound and a quick outlet pass led to Brent Bach converting a layup with 1.8 seconds remaining to give the No. 3 Bellarmine Knights men’s basketball team a 76-74 victory over Lynn University in the Cesar Odio Thanksgiving Classic at Barry University on Saturday afternoon.
Bellarmine found itself down 74-69 with just 1:38 remaining, but came up with two big defensive stops and took advantage of all their offensive opportunities in the final 98 seconds to escape with the victory.
After BU’s Adam Eberhard drained a pair of three throws with 1:31 remaining, Lynn missed a 3-pointer taken late in the shot clock. Bellarmine rebounded and after BU’s Ben Weyer missed a triple, he collected his own rebound and CJ Fleming then knocked down a trey from the right corner to tie the game at 74 with less than 38 seconds remaining.
Lynn again took the shot clock down to near zero and missed again. Bellarmine’s Parker Chitty claimed the defensive rebound and got the outlet to Bach for the game-winner.
“That is one courageous win,” said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport, who alluded to the arduous travel schedule the Knights endured the past week. “That was three games in five days. I don’t know how many miles it is from Louisville to Detroit back to Louisville and from Louisville to Miami. It’s a lot.”
Bellarmine looked as if it had things well in hand in the first 20 minutes running out to a couple of 11-point leads. However the Bellarmine Knights could never quite deliver the knockout blow to the Lynn Fighting Knights, and Bellarmine’s lead at the half was 35-27.
The second period opened with Bellarmine going on a short 4-0 to extend the lead to 12, but the Fighting Knights fought back to trim the BU cushion to just one at 43-42 when Ryan Peterson banked in a 3-pointer with 12:45 remaining. Lynn then got a steal on the ensuing inbounds play and took its first lead of the game with a quick layup.
Lynn kept the pressure on Bellarmine and eventually worked its lead to eight, 66-58, with 6:21 remaining.
“We got a little tentative from about the 12 minute mark to about the 6-minute mark of really attacking,” Davenport explained. “When we got back to attacking-and that came down to Brent Bach, he was in attack-mode-then we were able to make a run and win the game.”
Bach, who was named Most Valuable Player of the Cesar Odio Classic, finished with a career-high 21 points, making eight of 10 field goals including two of three from beyond the arc. Eberhard, who joined Bach on the All-Tournament Team, turned in another all-around good performance for BU with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. Chivarsky Corbett also hit double digits for the Knights, tying his Bellarmine-high with 11 points.
As team, Bellarmine was 25 of 43 from the field for 58.1 percent including a 10-21 (47.6%) performance from 3-point land. Perhaps the most impressive Bellarmine statistic was a perfect 16-of-16 from the free throw line.
Peterson led five Lynn Fighting Knights in double figures with 19. Randy Bell, who represented Lynn on the All-Tournament Team, added 15 for the Fighting Knights. As a team, Lynn made just 43.9 percent from the field, but countered the poor shooting by coming up with 23 second chance points.
“The game came down to them (Lynn) being able to offensive rebound the ball in the second half,” Davenport said. “The pressure got us out of any type of rhythm, and the reason they were able to press was because they offensive rebounded the ball and laid it in. They were shooting until they scored every possession. When we got it off the glass, it was a layup drill at the other end. Look at the last play of the game.”
Bellarmine improves to 6-0 on the season while Lynn slips to 1-3 overall, with all three of its losses being by six or fewer points.
After the grueling road trip, Bellarmine now gets a lengthy stay at home, playing its next six games in Knights Hall. Next up for the Knights is their GLVC opener on Dec. 2 against Lewis at 3:15 p.m.
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by John Spugnardi