EVANSVILLE, Ind.-The No. 3/4 Bellarmine Knights used a strong second half defensive effort to defeat the Drury Panthers 79-62 on Thursday afternoon in the Ford Center in a quarterfinal game of the Deaconess Great Lakes Valley Conference Men's Basketball Championship Tournament.
The top-seeded Knights (26-3) never trailed as they posted their 13th consecutive victory. Drury, seeded eighth, falls to 18-10 on the season.
Bellarmine got 24 points from Rusty Troutman as the senior guard made seven of 12 shots and converted eight of 10 free throws.
While Bellarmine never trailed, the Knights struggled to create separation in the first half as the Panthers owned the glass, outrebounding the Knights 21-9 in the opening 20 minutes, including 7-0 on the offensive backboard.
Bellarmine increased the defensive intensity in the second period, and those efforts paid immediate dividends with the Knights expanding a 37-35 halftime lead to a 46-37 bulge less than four minutes into the second half.
The Knights held Drury to just 34.6 percent shooting in the second period while doing a better job rebounding, owning a 19-14 edge in that department.
"(Drury) is as tough to prepare for as any team I've ever coached against, because they're just so solid and they are such a great program," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport. "Credit to them, they played-I thought-tremendous. They owned the paint in the first half. Credit to our guys-especially in the second half-for the leadership to come out and play like us."
One area the Knights dominated was free throw shooting, where Bellarmine converted 23 of 29 charity tosses for 79.3 percent while the Panthers made just 11 of 19 for 57.9 percent.
Bellarmine sophomore Adam Eberhard had another impressive stat line, just missing a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. He flirted with a triple-double by adding in seven assists while also coming up with three steals and blocking two shots.
The Knights also got another good performance from Al Davis, who was named the GLVC Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week. Today, the 5-9 guard also flashed his offensive skills with 11 points and seven assists while committing just one turnover.
As a team, the Knights shot exactly 50 percent, and collected 20 assists on 24 made baskets.
Douglas Moore came off the Drury bench to pace the Panthers offensively, netting 16 points while Isaac Johnson was the only other Drury player in double digits with 10.
Bellarmine moves on the play Wisconsin-Parkside in the first GLVC semifinal game on Saturday. The fourth-seeded Rangers defeated Indianapolis 97-82 in the second quarterfinal game.
Saturday's game will tip at 1 p.m. (noon CT) at the Ford Center. "At halftime, we challenged our players, and they came through," said Davenport. "Now I'm challenging the Bellarmine people to get to Evansville by 1 o'clock on Saturday."
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