Facing a game that was challenging on many levels, the No. 3 Bellarmine Knights came away celebrating a variety of accomplishments after knocking off William Jewell 80-58 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at the Mabee Center.
The overriding challenge for the Knights was taking on a William Jewell team that was 13-1 coming into the game. To make things even tougher, Bellarmine had to play the Cardinals on their home floor, where they were 7-0 on the season. Another fact upping the degree of difficulty was that today’s game was Bellarmine’s first road conference game of the season. To compound the challenge even further, the Knights were playing 520 miles away from Louisville less than 48 hours after a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory over Maryville in Knights Hall on Thursday night.
Not only did the Knights overcome all the challenges, they did it in impressive fashion. Bellarmine bolted out to a 23-point lead in the first half with outstanding play on both ends of the floor and took a 42-25 cushion into the locker room at halftime.
The Knights then survived a furious comeback attempt by the homestanding Cardinals. William Jewell, which averages 93 points and more than 11 3-pointers per game, unleashed a barrage of trifectas to open the second period. The home team canned five of its first six 3-pointers of the half and trimmed the Knights’ lead to just two points at 48-46.
Again, Bellarmine rose to the challenge, closing the game on a 32-12 run to remain unbeaten on the year with a 13-0 (4-0 GLVC) record.
“On the road against a team that’s 13-1 to withstand a 3-point barrage and then to outscore them in the second half, it was just an incredible performance by a very special group of young men,” said Bellarmine Head Coach Scott Davenport.
“To start acknowledging individuals (for their play), you just can’t,” Davenport added. “You’ve got guys drawing charges and playing great, and that’s never going to show up in a box score. Daniel Ramser drew three by himself. What makes it special is to be on that bench when he’s drawing them and feel the emotion of how happy they are for him and then see four guys on the floor sprinting to pick him up.”
Leading the offensive charge for the Knights was senior guard Brent Bach. After exploding for 18 second half points in BU’s win on Thursday, the Augusta, Kentucky native erupted for career highs in points and rebounds today with 23 and eight respectively. Setting up Bach for much of his offensive success was Adam Eberhard, who also recorded a career high with 10 assists. The Evansville junior added 16 points, three rebounds and four steals. Jarek Coles was just three points shy of his career high after scoring 13 points for Bellarmine.
Bach and Eberhard weren’t the only Knights with personal achievements. Davenport recorded career victory number 300 with today’s win.
“First and foremost, it’s about these players,” Davenport said of the accomplishment. He also shared the credit with a host of others. “The day I got this job, I said it was going to take everybody, and it has,” he said, referring to athletic staff, coaches, fans and family.
To record win number 300 for Davenport, the Knights had to overcome a 26-point effort from the Cardinals’ Patrick Whelan. The senior from England converted six of 10 triples and made 10 of 16 overall. Keith Hayes was the only other William Jewell player to reach double digits, scoring 11 on three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws.
As a team, Bellarmine dominated the glass, giving up just three offensive rebounds and holding a 32-21 advantage in total boards. Another telling statistic was turnovers where Bellarmine gave the ball up just 12 times while forcing 23 William Jewell miscues. Despite WJC’s second half hot streak, the Knights outshot William Jewell 52.7 to 47.8 percent overall.
Bellarmine returns to action on Thursday when they travel to Romeoville, Illinois to take on Lewis before continuing the road trip on Saturday at Wisconsin-Parkside.
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by John Spugnardi