Bellarmine MBB welcomes McKendree, Illinois Springfield

The No. 3/4 Bellarmine Knights men’s basketball team will close out its 2016-17 regular season at home, starting with this Thursday’s and Saturday’s games against McKendree (9-14/3-12 GLVC) and Illinois-Springfield (8-16/3-12 GLVC).

In the Great Lakes Valley Conference “pod” scheduling system, each team is assigned to a pod of four teams and those teams play each other both home and away. Teams face the remaining 12 GLVC teams just once in the year.

Bellarmine’s remaining schedule is the home portion of their pod, having previously played McKendree and Illinois Springfield on the road. The remaining pod member is Southern Indiana, who the Knights will face in the regular season finale next Thursday, (Feb. 23).

In Thursday’s game, the Knights face a Bearcat team that they defeated 95-66 back on Dec. 3. In that game, Bellarmine scorched the nets with better than 60 percent shooting as all 12 players who saw action hit the scoring column.

In the last meeting, however, McKendree was without the services of last year’s GLVC scoring leader David Franklin, who did not play until Dec. 30 this season. Since that time, the 6-5 guard/forward has contributed 16.1 points per game to the Bearcats’ offense. Michael Jackson paces the McKendree in scoring at 17 points a game while Justin Blanks adds 16.4.

In the teams’ first meeting, it was 6-6 senior Darrin Winkleman who gave the Knights the most trouble, leading all scorers with 21 points.

On Saturday, Bellarmine will meet a squad that held the Knights to their second-worst shooting percentage of the year. Bellarmine, which currently leads the nation in field goal percentage at 53.4 percent, made just 43.6 percent against the Prairie Stars as the Knights held on for a 67-63 victory in Springfield on Dec. 1.

Illinois Springfield features a balanced attack with four players averaging in double digits, led by Eddie Longmeyer at 14.6 points per game. The 6-3, 210-pound junior guard was the Knights’ biggest nemesis in the first game, scoring 16 points while playing 39 minutes.

Other top players for the Prairie Stars include: Paxton Harmon (13.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Vince Walker (12.5 ppg), and Zach Steinberg (12.1 ppg/8.6 rpg).

Bellarmine (22-3, 14-1 GLVC) enters Thursday’s game on a nine-game winning streak, the longest in the GLVC. The Knights also feature a balanced attack as five different players have led the team in scoring over their first 25 games.

Individually, sophomore Adam Eberhard continues to post the top numbers for Bellarmine, and is the Knights’ top scorer (17.1 ppg) and rebounder (7.3 rpg) while leading the team in assists with an average of 3.7 per game. Also having solid seasons are Rusty Troutman (13.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Al Davis (11.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.6 apg).

Coach Davenport is getting contributions up and down his lineup this season, and freshman Ben Weyer has emerged as the top 3-point shooter in the GLVC. The 6-7 forward, who suffered a preseason foot injury and didn’t play the first six games of the season, is making 56.5 percent of his treys (27-48) and recently took over the league lead in that category.

By John Spugnardi

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