LIBERTY, Mo. - It wasn't easy, but the Bellarmine University women's basketball team picked up right where the Knights left off.
Following the long holiday break, the visiting Knights remained undefeated by turning back the comeback effort of William Jewell to record a 78-75 victory Thursday over the Cardinals in Great Lakes Valley Conference play at the Mabee Center.
"I'm just happy with the win to be off (since Dec. 20) and come out and play as well as we did," BU Coach Chancellor Dugan said.
Junior forward Sarah Galvin scored a season-high 26 points and barely missed a double-double with nine rebounds as Bellarmine moved to 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the GLVC. The Knights, who are ranked 22nd in the Division II Media Poll and maintained their best start since the 1991-92 season, also got a season-high 13 points from senior guard Mackenzie Martinez and freshman guard Raven Merriweather added nine.
The game was tight through three-and-a-half quarters before Bellarmine closed the third period with a 15-4 run to grab a 63-52 lead. The Knights began the fourth quarter by opening up their biggest advantage after junior guard Whitney Hartlage converted a layup.
Facing a potential blowout, William Jewell (5-9, 0-3) battled back by attacking the offensive glass. The Cardinals stormed back to within one point with 5:46 left after a 12-0 run, and roughly two minutes later, they gained the lead on a basket by Chris Keys.
With the game tied at 73, Martinez knifed through the lane and tossed in a tough layup, but William Jewell tied it again with two free throws with 37 seconds left. Martinez responded again after a timeout, muscling in a drive while getting fouled for a 77-75 lead with 14 seconds left.
"She did a great job of splitting the defense and getting in there and finishing," Dugan said of Martinez.
William Jewell had one last chance to tie when Keys was fouled with 5 seconds left. However, she missed her first attempt and Logan Antenen came up empty on a putback after a second miss at the charity stripe.
Galvin notched the rebound to seal the victory and cap a tremendous individual performance. She hit 12 of her 19 shots and exploded for 14 points in the first quarter alone. Galvin, who has led or tied for the team lead in scoring in all nine games, also tallied four steals.
"She just wants it," Dugan said. "She likes to score and the guards did a good job of finding her."
William Jewell had four players score in double figures. Maddie Nelson posted a team-high 18 points, Blair Klostermann had 17, Keys added 16 and Madison Campbell chipped in 12. The Cardinals entered the game leading the GLVC in free throw shooting but hit only 59.3 percent (16 of 27) of their attempts. The Knights didn't do themselves any favors at the charity stripe either, going 7 of 13.
Bellarmine plays Saturday at Rockhurst.
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