Bellarmine wins NCAA opener

Bellarmine wins NCAA opener

(Bellarmine University Release ) LOUISVILLE, Ky. -The No. 2 Bellarmine Knights blew open a tight game with a 24-2 run in the second half and posted a 72-61 over the Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers in a quarterfinal game of the NCAA Division II Championship's Midwest Region on Saturday night in Knights Hall.

The Knights trailed for nearly the entire first half and went into the Knights Hall locker room for the first time this season without a halftime lead as the eighth-seeded Rangers held a 32-31 advantage at the break.

The upset-minded No. 8 seed came out and opened a 38-34 lead at the 17:57 mark. However, over the next 10:21, Parkside scored just two points while the Knights ran off 24 to take an 18-point lead with just 7:36 remaining.

Bellarmine's Rusty Troutman helped spark the run as the senior scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second period.

The Knights, the regional's No. 1 seed, held the Rangers to just 32.4 percent shooting in the second half and 36.7 overall while Bellarmine connected on 52.2 percent from the field.

Even with the numbers being so heavily favored for the Knights, Bellarmine players weren't satisfied with their defensive effort.

"We all know that our defense leads to our offense," Troutman said. "Our defensive effort wasn't the best we've had all year. I mean, they missed some open looks, and if they go down, it could have been a different game."

Fellow senior Al Davis agreed. "You can look at the papers (box scores) and see the percentages, but we don't feel we did that well defensively," said the 2017 GLVC Defensive Player of the Year.

Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport said the players' attitudes is why he enjoys coaching this year's team. "This is an incredible basketball team to coach," he said. "I've said it from day one."

Davenport also sang the praises of the Knights Hall crowd. "This was a fabulous night," he said. "The crowd was tremendous. I know it's cliché to say it, but they were a sixth man for us tonight. They fed off us and we fed off them."

Troutman, who surpassed former Bellarmine great Braydon Hobbs tonight to take over the seventh position on the BU all-time scoring list with 1,640 points, also led the Knights with nine rebounds.

Adam Eberhard finished the night with 13 points and six rebounds while Davis chipped in with 10 points and three assists. Freshman Alex Cook also had a solid night with seven points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Parkside point guard Kendale McCullum paced the Rangers with 18 points and dished off five assists while Goran Zagorac added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Bellarmine, which won for the 42nd consecutive time at home and 16th time in a row, improves to 29-3 overall. Wisconsin-Parkside finishes its season 22-8.

The Knights will face fifth-seeded Quincy in Sunday's semifinal game at 7:30. The Hawks outlasted No. 4 seed Kentucky Wesleyan 78-75 in the final quarterfinal game of the night.

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