The host Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers pulled off a major upset this afternoon by knocking off the Bellarmine Knights 80-68 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game this afternoon at DeSimone Gymnasium.
The Rangers, who fell by 36 points at Knights Hall on Dec. 7, scorched the nets for 57.5 percent shooting to become the first Bellarmine opponent to shoot better than 50 percent this season. Parkside made eight of 16 three pointers and converted from the free throw line as well, knocking down 26 of 28 from the charity stripe for 92.9 percent.
The Knights, who came in ranked No. 2 in the NABC rankings and No. 1 in the D2SIDA poll, saw their 14-game winning streak snapped as they shot a season-low 47.1 percent.
“We got beat wire-to-wire,” said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport. “We got beat every way you can get beat in basketball. I feel horrible for the kids. They had a chance to do something that no team in the history of Bellarmine basketball had done-to win their first 15 games. Now as I reflect on it, it’s one of the most damaging losses-from a regional standpoint, from a conference standpoint-in my 12-plus years at Bellarmine.
Despite trailing the entire first period and facing a 39-29 halftime deficit, Bellarmine fought back to take a brief 50-49 lead with 8:22 remaining. The Rangers responded with a quick 5-0 run to re-establish a four-point lead.
The Knights would not go away, however, and fought back to tie the game at 54 apiece. Adam Eberhard then had a wide-open 3-pointer from the left baseline to give Bellarmine another lead, but the shot was too strong and bounced off the rim. As it turned out, it was the only miss from behind the arc for Eberhard, who led all scorers with 24 and finished 5-of-6 from 3-point land.
The Rangers drained a triple on the ensuing possession to take a 57-54 lead with less than five minutes to play. Then, after a Bellarmine turnover, Goran Zagorac was fouled on a layup, and he completed the 3-point play to put the Rangers up 60-54 with 3:22 remaining.
Then, Bellarmine’s Brent Bach, who finished with 18 points, reeled off four straight to pull BU within two. The Knights forced a Ranger turnover on the next possession, but in celebrating the play, Bellarmine’s Chivarsky Corbett was whistled for a technical foul. Parkside’s Espen Fjaerestad converted both free throws to make it a two-possession game at 62-58.
After a Bellarmine miss with 2:05 on the clock, the Knights were then forced to foul for the remainder of the game. Wisconsin-Parkside was up to the challenge, knocking down 16 of the 18 free throws they shot in the final two minutes to make the final margin 12.
Davenport refused to make excuses. “We got outplayed. When you give up 57 percent shooting, 50 percent from the three, and 92 from the line and they make 13 more free throws than you, and you had 10 assists and 17 turnovers, you’re probably lucky to be down 12.”
The Knights fall to 14-1 overall and 5-1 in league play, while Parkside-who is ineligible for postseason play-improves to 5-10, 3-2 GLVC.
Bellarmine has little time to recover from the loss as the Knights host Southern Indiana on Monday at 8 p.m.
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by John Spugnardi