March 10, 2013 at 4:19 AM EST - Updated July 25 at 10:11 PM
(Bellarmine University Release)
EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The No. 12 Bellarmine University Knights lost 69-62 to the No. 8 Drury Panthers in the semifinals of the Deaconess Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon at the Ford Center.
The Knights forced the Panthers into 19 turnovers to keep the game close despite getting outshot 64.7 percent to 40.7 percent. Drury and Bellarmine both made 22 field goals, but the Knights shot 54 times compared to just 34 for the Panthers.
"Our guys played as hard as they could," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport. "We had 37 deflections and 35 is great mark."
Davenport added, "At this time of the year in the greatest conference in the country, everybody is going to play with great desire. Everybody has tremendous ability; and everybody is well prepared. It just comes down to execution. We turn them over 19 times, which is indicative of our effort, but you've got to be able to convert those into easy baskets, and we didn't do that. You give (Drury) credit, though. They're 24-4 for a reason."
The No. 1-seeded Panthers opened the game with a quick 6-0 run on a pair of Alex Hall 3-pointers, but Bellarmine answered with a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 7-6.
From that point, neither team made a serious run with the largest lead being five by both squads for the remainder of the half. Bellarmine, the tourney's No. 5 seed, took a 32-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the second period, Drury wrestled the lead away from Bellarmine in the early going, and the Knights could not battle their way back. Bellarmine did keep the game close, and tied the score at 56-56 at the 3:06 mark.
The Panthers responded with a quick 6-0 run to seemingly take control of the game, but Vance Hall gave the Knights fans hope by burying a three from the right baseline to close the gap to 62-59 at the 1:04 mark.
However, with the Knights playing tight defense trying to force a turnover, Drury got a run-out for a dunk. From that point the Knights were forced to put up quick shots and give fouls, and Drury took advantage to go up by 10 before a Ryan Burton trey made the final margin seven.
Drury's Alex Hall led all scorers with 25 while Bellarmine was led by Chris Dowe's 22. Vance Hall was the only other Knight to reach double figures with 13.
Bellarmine falls to 22-7 on the season. Drury improves to 24-4 and will meet the winner of the Wisconsin-Parkside vs. Southern Indiana game in tomorrow's championship game.
Heading into today's game, Drury and Bellarmine were ranked 1-2 in the NCAA regional rankings, so the Panthers would seem to be a lock to earn the NCAA Midwest Region's No. 1 seed. Bellarmine will learn their fate during Sunday's NCAA selection show, which will be webcast on NCAA.com at 10:30 p.m.