MEMPHIS-The seventh-ranked Bellarmine men's basketball team spurted to a double digit lead with a 13-0 run midway through the first half, and the host Christian Brothers Buccaneers never recovered as the Knights posted a 79-60 victory in a non-conference game at Canale Arena.
Plagued by turnover problems in the first 10 and a half minutes of the game, Bellarmine (7-1) played turnover free for the final 9:24 of the first period to take control of the game. The Knights turned a 20-17 deficit at the 8:42 mark into a 30-20 advantage with 5:36 remaining in the first half.
Sophomore Adam Eberhard, who posted 18 of his game-high 22 points in the opening 20 minutes, and Brent Bach were the major catalysts in the Knights' run.
At the break, Bellarmine owned a 42-26 lead after shooting a sizzling 57.1 percent from the floor.
In the second period, the Knights just refused to let Christian Brothers by playing solid defense and answering the Buccaneer 3-pointers with three pointers of their own.
Christian Brothers (4-3) hampered its own comeback attempt by turning in a poor performance at the free throw line. In a half where the teams combined to shoot 27 free throws, CBU was just four of 14 from the charity stripe in the second period. The Knights, on the other hand, showed why they rank in the nation's top five in free throw shooting by draining 11 of 13 in the second half and 15 of 17 for the game.
Bellarmine managed to extend the lead to as many as 20 on several occasions, despite shooting just 39.3 percent from the field in the second period.
"This was a tough win," said Bellarmine Head Coach Scott Davenport. "They were undefeated here, and (Head Coach) Mike Nienaber does a tremendous job." Davenport added, "The 20 assists were huge. We shot poorly in the second half, but we just didn't take good shots, but there aren't many negatives (with tonight's performance)."
One the positives Davenport saw from his team was defense. "We had to defend them with team defense," he said. "You have to have great ball pressure, but you have to have pressure knowing that four guys have your back, and tonight we did that the whole game."
Eberhard added a game-high eight rebounds to his 22 points to lead the Knights. While Eberhard had the hot hand in the first half, seniors Al Davis and Rusty Troutman stepped up in the second period. After combining for just two points in the first half, Davis and Troutman finished with 11 and 10 points respectively and were the only other Knights to reach double digits in scoring.
The Knights recorded 20 assists on their 27 made baskets with Troutman, Davis and Jarek Coles dishing out four apiece to lead Bellarmine.
Jeff Larkin and Adam Dieball paced the Buccaneers with 16 and 15 while Alex Trentman hauled in seven rebounds.
Bellarmine, which won its seventh game in a row tonight, returns home for a Saturday matchup with Midway University at Knights Hall. The Bellarmine student pep club, Knights Nation, had declared the game "jersey night" and is encouraging all fans to wear their favorite jerseys. Tip is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.