Bellarmine men drop second straight game

(Bellarmine University release)

ST. LOUIS—The No. 4 Bellarmine University Knights suffered their second straight loss as the host Maryville Saints erased a 12-point halftime deficit to score a 69-64 upset victory in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Moloney Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The Saints' second half comeback was fueled by shooing a sizzling 66.7 percent from the field and nailing eight of 14 second half treys. Meanwhile, the Knights—who came into the game ranked second in the country in field goal percentage—shot just 34.8 percent (8-23) after the break as Bellarmine lost back to back games for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Bellarmine was force to play short-handed against the Saints. Although senior guard Chris Dowe made his 45th consecutive start, an injury prevented the 6-3 preseason All-American from getting significant minutes as he went to the bench and did not return after just three minutes of action.

The Knights (10-2, 2-2 GLVC) opened the game with a flurry, bolting out to a 12-2 lead, and eventually extended the margin to as many as 16 as they connected on 14 of 24 shots (58.3%) in the first period.

The second half also started with promise as Jelani Johnson connected on a 3-ball to open the scoring. However, the Knights would go just one of seven from deep the rest of the game while the Saints heated up from the outside.

Relying heavily on their 3-point shooting, the Saints slowly cut into the Bellarmine lead, and Asa Toney gave Maryville (13-4, 3-2) their first lead of the game with a triple at the 5:43 mark. The Saints, who did not attempt a shot inside the arc over the game's final six minutes, closed the game by hitting four of six treys to keep the Knights at bay.

The final dagger came when Maryville's Armon Provo banked in a 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down and the game clock read 0:07. The shot extended the Saints lead to five, their biggest cushion of the game, and sealed the victory for Maryville.

"Our kids tried hard," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport. "I told them at halftime the only way (Maryville) could get back in this game is if they rebound the ball and if they shoot threes. We gave up eight threes in the second half. You can't overcome that."