Beat goes on for Bellarmine, Knights blast McKendree
(Bellarmine University Release) LEBANON, Ill.-Coming off the best shooting performance so far this season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference when they hit 66 percent in a win over Illinois-Springfield on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Bellarmine Knights showed little signs of letting up in turning back the host McKendree Bearcats 82-63 today at the Harry Statham Sports Center.
Bellarmine's "dynamic duo" of Jake Thelen and Chris Whitehead, again, put up stellar numbers. Thelen flirted with triple double before settling for his ninth double double of the season with 21 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. Whitehead contributed 17 points and eight assists. Over the past two games, the Bellarmine seniors have combined to make 37 of 42 field goals.
As a team, the Knights cooled just a bit, hitting 60.3 from the floor, but the Bearcats never posed a serious threat in the second period despite hitting nine 3-pointers in the game. The Bellarmine offense is traditionally known for its outstanding shooting and entered today's gamed ranked fourth in the nation in field goal percentage, but the Bellarmine defense has quietly become one of the nation's best as well. Ranked eighth in field goal percentage defense, Bellarmine held McKendree to just 37.9 percent-just one game after the Bearcats scorched the nets with 63 percent shooting on Thursday.
"I'm really, really proud of the guys," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport. "We got outscored by 21 at the 3-point line, and we still win by 19 points on the road. I felt we dominated the backboards and had 18 assists. I really have no complaints." The 10th-year coach also pointed out that while Whitehead and Thelen were shooting with near perfection, they also shared the basketball. "In terms of sharing the basketball, those two guys had 14 of our 18 assists...so that's just being complete players," Davenport said.