No. 23 Bellarmine WBB to host Bearcats, Prairie Stars

The No. 23 Bellarmine University women’s basketball team’s schedule takes a turn into the familiar to close the regular season.

The Knights’ final three games before the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament will pit them against opponents they’ve already played this season. And the best news for Bellarmine (19-5, 11-4 GLVC) is that all three contests will unfold at Knights Hall. The stretch begins at 5:45 p.m. (ET) Thursday against McKendree (10-15, 1-14) and continues at 1 p.m. Saturday against Illinois Springfield (8-15, 2-13).

Before Bellarmine welcomes GLVC East leader Southern Indiana the following Thursday, the Knights will hope to sweep their upcoming contests with the Bearcats and Prairie Stars. Bellarmine has split its last four Thursday/Saturday game weeks. Most recently, the Knights defeated Maryville 74-61 and fell 58-57 to Missouri-St. Louis on the road.

The clashes with the Saints and Tritons italicized the up-and-down nature of Bellarmine’s last eight games. The Knights shot a season-best 58.8 percent against Maryville but followed with their second-worst percentage of the year (30.6) against UMSL.

Bellarmine will look for a steadier collective effort against McKendree and Illinois Springfield. The visiting Knights defeated the Bearcats 50-37 on Dec. 3 as Bellarmine allowed its fewest points since limiting Berea to 33 in the 2012-13 season. Offensively, the contest is the lowest scoring for the Knights thus far.

Two days prior, on Dec. 1, Bellarmine defeated homestanding UIS 66-63. The Knights built a 14-point lead in the second half, but the Prairie Stars rallied to within 61-60 with less than three minutes remaining. Senior forward Sarah Galvin and junior guard Raven Merriweather, who are the team’s two leading scorers, each sank a pair of free throws and Bellarmine’s defense shut out UIS over the final 2:08 to secure the win in the turnover-heavy battle.

McKendree, which has lost seven straight, doesn’t have one go-to scorer. The Bearcats possess seven players who average 5.2 points or more, with Ellie Pusheck pacing the team at 7.7 points per game. Shannon McGinnis averages 6.5 rebounds per game.

Illinois Springfield, which has dropped eight straight, is headlined by Syerra Cunningham, who averages a double-double at 11.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Destiny Ramsey leads the Prairie Stars in scoring (12.8) and Shelbi Patterson is third (10.6) behind Cunningham.

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by Adam Pruiett

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