Bellarmine rolls past Illinois-Springfield

Bellarmine University release:

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The No. 4 Bellarmine University Knights started and finished with flurries to post an 81-52 victory over the visiting Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars this afternoon in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game in Knights Hall.

Bellarmine (10-0, 2-0 GLVC) got a big boost from senior Chris Dowe, who posted game-highs in points (17), rebounds (7) and assists (8) to help keep the Knights undefeated on the season with their 10th victory.

After UIS's Brandon Snowden hit one of two free throws to open the game, the Knights scored nine straight and went on to build 33-5 lead over the first 13:06 of the game. The Prairie Stars made a bit of a comeback to close within 43-22 at the half.

Illinois-Springfield opened the second period with a put-back basket and four straight points, prompting Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport to go to his bench and replace all five starters just a minute and a half into the half.

"I wouldn't let them get into bad habits," Davenport said. "We commit a careless foul; we let them drive the ball; we didn't front the low post. It's okay, though, those other guys did a tremendous job." Davenport added, "It's not like anyone is in the dog house. When you make mistakes, I'm going to see if someone else can play better."

The Prairie Stars managed to whittle the Bellarmine lead down to 12, but the Knights closed with a 25-8 run with the final margin of 29 being the biggest lead Bellarmine held in the game.

The Knights put together a solid game on both ends of the floor, hitting almost 58 percent of their shots while holding UIS to just 35 percent shooting. Those numbers reflect the type of year the Knights have been having thus far. Through games of Jan. 3, Bellarmine was ranked seventh in the country in both field percentage and field goal percentage defense.

Bellarmine's offense was again highly efficient with 21 assists on 30 made baskets. "That's the way we have to play," Davenport said, "everybody making everybody else better with no regard for anything other than the 'W.'"

Four Knights scored in double figures with all four reaching the total in the first half. In fact, when Jake Thelen hit a layup at the 2:01 mark of the first period to put Bellarmine up 41-19, it gave him 10 points, to go with Vance Hall's 10, Keisten Jones's 10 and Dowe's 11. Thelen finished with 14; Hall totaled 15; and Jones tallied 12 for the game.

Snowden led the Prairie Stars (3-8, 1-2 GLVC) with 11 points, and Kyle Gupton came off the bench to add 10 for UIS.

Bellarmine now faces its first GLVC road trip of the season with games at Missouri-St. Louis on Thursday and Maryville on Saturday.