The No. 5 Bellarmine University women’s basketball team is set to enter into a brief foray into Great Lakes Valley Conference play.

The Knights (6-0) will begin league action at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Illinois Springfield (3-1) and continue at 2 p.m. Saturday at McKendree (4-1). The two GLVC contests bridge Bellarmine’s six completed nonconference contests and its three remaining nonleague outings.

Bellarmine is coming off a strong weekend in the USI Thanksgiving Classic in which the Knights collected convincing wins over previously undefeated Michigan Tech (78-62) and Young Harris (73-55) while never trailing in either game. Bellarmine built a 17-point lead by halftime of the first contest and led by 10 at the intermission of the second before pulling away for good in the third period.

Entering the short interlude into GLVC action, senior forward and preseason All-American Sarah Galvin (17.2 points per game, 8.0 rebounds) is pacing Bellarmine in scoring without thus far having to carry quite as much of the load – she led or tied for the team lead in scoring in the Knights’ first 11 games last season and has topped Bellarmine in four of six outings this year. Junior guard Raven Merriweather has helped ease the scoring burden on Galvin, reaching double figures in all six games after it took 13 contests last season for her to record her sixth double-digit performance. The All-GLVC selection is averaging 14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and accumulated a team-best 13 steals.

Senior guard Destony Curry, another All-GLVC selection, is averaging 11.0 points and is coming off a well-rounded performance against Young Harris (14 points, five steals, four rebounds, three assists). Senior guard Whitney Hartlage (9.7 points) has capably filled in being a primary ballhandler while senior guard Kelsey Adwell recovers from an injury, leading the Knights in assists (4.2) and made 3-pointers (12). Junior forward Beth Bowers adds 8.0 points as a top reserve, and sophomore center Ally Mayhaus is averaging 6.3 rebounds and has blocked a team-high seven shots.

Illinois Springfield is off to a solid start, opening the season in the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge with a 74-63 victory before being edged 72-70 by Hillsdale. The Prairie Stars followed with an 89-22 stomping of Robert Morris-Springfield and a 73-69 win over Missouri Southern.

Illinois Springfield’s leading scorer and rebounder is Syerra Cunningham at 13.3 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. Tehya Fortune (team-best 11 3-pointers) and Destiny Ramsey are next at 11.8 points per contest each.

After opening the season with a 76-47 loss to Hillsdale in the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge, McKendree won four straight games. The Bearcats defeated Lake Superior State (61-53), Lindenwood (66-57), Trevecca Nazarene (58-50) and Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (77-56). Emily Pusheck is McKendree’s top scorer at 9.8 points per game.

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by Adam Pruiett