Bellarmine takes its opener in NCAA tourney

(Bellarmine University Release)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—The No. 14 Bellarmine University Knights survived and advanced in today's opening game of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional with a 67-61 victory over the University of Indianapolis at Drury University's O'Reilly Center.

The no. 3-seeded Knights used a 21-0 run in the first half to open up an 18-point lead then hung on down the stretch with clutch free throw shooting for the win.

The Greyhounds (20-9) erased the entirety of Bellarmine's 18-point lead to tie the game 57-57 with just 2:35 remaining, but the Knights dug in and made several key defensive stops while connecting on 10 of 12 free throws in the last two and a half minutes.

"That's GLVC basketball," Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport said. "Indianapolis is a very difficult, athletic team to play against. But I thought we played with great poise and execution down the stretch. When you only have 10 turnovers for the game, that shows you've played with great poise. That's the stat of the game."

Making the end of the game more difficult for the Knights was losing the services of senior Chris Dowe when he was whistled for his fifth foul while battling for an offensive rebound at the 4:14 mark.

"It felt like those last few minutes took about two hours," said Dowe, who gave credit to his teammates for pulling out the win. "I wanted to kiss them," he said. "They did a great job knocking down free throws and getting big rebounds down the stretch, and that ended up winning us the game."

Davenport also was happy the play of his bench players. "Our depth today was very, very good. With the exception of Vance (Hall) playing 36, no one else played more than 30 minutes."

Bellarmine, which improved to 23-7 with the win, was led by Dowe and Hall with 13 points apiece, and Jelani Johnson also hit double figures with 11.

The Knights overcame a career-high 26 points from UIndy's James Hollowell, who canned five of seven 3-pointers and nine of 15 overall despite getting a severe cut over his eye that required medical attention about midway through the second half.

Aside from Hollowell's performance, the Bellarmine defense was solid, coming up with nine steals and holding the sixth-seeded Greyhounds to 41.7 percent shooting for the game.

Bellarmine's strong first half (14-25 from the field) carried the Knights to 43.8 percent shooting for the game while shooting just seven of 23 in the second period.

The Knights survive to face the winner of the Southern Indiana-Wayne State game tomorrow at 6 p.m. EDT. Tomorrow's game's radio broadcast will transfer from its normal station and be aired on WFIA-FM 94.7 with the Louisville Catholic Sports Network production being called by Nick Curran and Mark Bugg.