Bellarmine rally falls short at Wisconsin-Parkside

(Bellarmine University Release)

SOMERS, Wisc.—The No. 13 Bellarmine Knights came up short in their comeback attempt as the No. 21 Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers pulled out a 74-72 victory in a Great Lakes Valley Conference matchup at DeSimone Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

Down by as many as 17, Bellarmine rallied to close the gap to just one on several occasions, and appeared to have tied the game with 8.2 seconds remaining, but Ryan Burton had a toe on the 3-point line so his jumper accounted for just two points and the Knights stayed one point behind 73-72.

The Rangers' Colt Grandstaff was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, and went to the free throw line with 6.9 on the clock. He canned the first charity toss, but missed the second. Bellarmine claimed the rebound and raced down court, but Chris Dowe's drive in the lane was thwarted as time expired, and Wisconsin-Parkside survived for the victory.

"On the road, you have to play 40 minutes of great basketball," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport, referring to Bellarmine's cold start that saw the hosts race out to a 23-6 lead over the game's first nine and a half minutes. "Give (Wisconsin-Parkside) credit, but our defense let us down, and our ability to execute fundamentally let us down."

Both teams finished with solid offensive numbers. After a cold start, Bellarmine finished hitting 27 of 51 field goal attempts and was a perfect 13-13 from the line. Wisconsin-Parkside, meanwhile, shot 53.6 percent from the field, including 10-20 from long range.

Bellarmine's downfall was 18 turnovers, including three in a row on crucial possessions late in the game. After two free throws by Dowe had cut the lead to just 66-65 at the 4:07 mark, Bellarmine turned it over on their next three possessions as the Rangers increased the lead back to five.

"When you're shooting 53 percent, it's death to turn it over," Davenport said. "And we turned it over 18 times, which robbed us of opportunities."

Earlier in the season when these two teams met, the Knights did a great job of keeping GLVC Player of the Year candidate Jeremy Saffold in check, but today he showed why he is so highly regarded. The 6-6 forward scored 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including nailing five of six 3-pointers.

Bellarmine countered with another balanced attack as all five starters (Vance Hall, Dowe, Jake Thelen, Keisten Jones, and Jelani Johnson) scored in double figures, led by Dowe's 16 points.

The Knights fall to 18-5 (10-5 GLVC), and the Rangers stay atop the GLVC East standings by improving to 18-5 overall and 13-2 in league play.

Bellarmine slips to third in the division as Southern Indiana, with whom they were tied, picked up a win over St. Joseph's earlier today. The Knights will get a chance to pull even with the Screaming Eagles on Thursday, when Bellarmine entertains USI in an 8 p.m. contest