OWENSBORO, Ky.—The No. 15 Bellarmine University Knights led the majority of the game, but faded coming down the stretch as the host Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers pulled out a 67-62 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory in the Owensboro Sportscenter on Saturday night.
After Kentucky Wesleyan scored the first basket of the game, Bellarmine came back to take the lead at 4-2 and enjoyed leads as large as 10 points until the Panthers finally came back to tie it at 55 with 6:28 remaining.
Coming down the stretch, Bellarmine could not shake the Kentucky Wesleyan defense as the Panthers forced four Bellarmine turnovers in the game's final six minutes and held the Knights without a field goal for the final 3:44 of the game. Meanwhile, KWC took advantage of their offensive rebounding with a couple of "second chance" baskets in the game's waning minutes to extend their lead to four and force Bellarmine to start fouling.
After the game, Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport was disappointed in his team's effort. "We had 16 deflections on the night," said Davenport. "We had 10 in the first half and six in the second when we get outscored by 11. The first time we played them (KWC), our goal was 35 deflections, and we had 35. In a tremendous win on Thursday night we had 40."
The Knights did shoot the ball well, connecting on 55.8 percent of their field goal attempts, but turned the ball over 14 times to just eight for the Panthers.
Kentucky Wesleyan shot just under 50 percent for the game, but claimed 11 offensive rebounds and outscored the Knights 18-6 on second chance points. Leading all scorers was KWC's Dazmond Starke with 23. The 6-7 senior entered the game leading the nation in field goal percentage at just over 67 percent and raised that average by making 11 of 16 tonight.
Bellarmine was paced by Vance Hall's 16 points with Chris Dowe adding 14. Jelani Johnsonhad another strong performance for the Knights with 10 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
Bellarmine and Kentucky Wesleyan are now tied with identical records of 19-6 overall and 11-6 in conference play. Also with 11-6 conference records are Lewis and Maryville, meaning there is essentially a four-way tie for the number four seed in the GLVC postseason tournament. Drury leads with a 15-2 record, Wisconsin-Parkside is second at 14-3, and Southern Indiana is third with a 12-5 conference mark.
The Knights' final regular season game will be Thursday night when Bellarmine will celebrate "Senior Night" with a home game against McKendree. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.