ST. LOUIS-Fighting off an incredible offensive performance from the host Missouri-St. Louis Tritons, the No. 3 Bellarmine University Knights gutted out an 88-78 victory on Saturday afternoon behind a 30-point, five-assist effort from point guard Chris Whitehead to extend their win streak to 10 games and improve to 22-2 overall and 14-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Today's GLVC battle saw both teams blister the nets in the Mark Twain Building as Bellarmine and UMSL combined to make 60 of their 104 field goals. The Knights knocked down 33 of 57 (57.9%) while the Tritons nailed 27 of 47 (57.4%) including 11 of 20 (55%) from beyond the 3-point line.
"We won this game because of an unbelievable, courageous group of young men," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport. "We gave up 57-four from the field; we got outscored by 21 points from the three point line; they (UMSL) had 20 assists; they were a plus-six on the backboard; we shot 69 percent from the line. I don't know other than an unbelievable, courageous group of young men how we won this basketball game. I do know this: it's with a point guard that's playing as well as any point guard in the country. I don't know if there's a kid more courageous than Chris Whitehead."
With the teams shooting so well, the game came down to ball control, and the Knights won that battle easily, turning the ball over a season-low four times while forcing UMSL into 17 turnovers. "We're a plus 10 from the field, so technically that's how we won the game," Davenport said.
Senior Corbin Maynard was the defensive catalyst for the Knights, coming off the bench to create havoc for the Triton offense while coming up with three steals. "He changes the tempo of the game," Davenport said of Maynard. "He gets three points, two rebounds and one assist, and none of this happens without him. The steals, the deflections, the loose balls, he just changes the game. When I put him in, it's like I put in three extra guys-like all of the sudden we have seven players."
Offensively, Whitehead's 30-point performance marked the first time a Knight had eclipsed the 30-point mark since Keisten Jones dropped 31 on Lewis exactly two years ago. While Whitehead put on a show offensively, it wasn't a one-man show. Four Knights reached double figures, and Jake Thelen was just a rebound shy of a double-double while scoring 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Rusty Troutman added 16, and Josh Sewell played a key role for the Knights with 13 points off the bench. "He just would not be denied," Davenport said of Sewell. "We called a couple of things for him, and he came through like a champ."