LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Bellarmine is headed back to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
The Knights got 26 points from Midwest Region Most Valuable Player Rusty Troutman and shot 61% from the field in the second half of an 84-66 win over Findlay on Tuesday night.
"It's awesome man, just icing on the cake for me," Troutman, a graduate of Bullitt East High School said, adding, "It's great, proud of my teammates, proud of my coaches, they prepared us well, man, it doesn't get any better than this, it's crazy, how special this is, how special this crowd was, how special Knights Nation was."
A capacity crowd of 2,196 saw a first half shootout. Bellarmine hit it's first six three-pointers and a total of eight in the first half. Findlay also hit eight in the first half, and the Oilers only trailed 41-39 after the first 20 minutes.
" When we got stops and got in transition and shared the ball, we just got out of the way and cheered for them," Bellarmine head coach Scotty Davenport said after the game. It is the fourth Regional Championship for Bellarmine, all under Davenport. The Knights won the National Championship in 2011.
Senior Al Davis added 21 points, hitting 4-9 from behind the three-point line. The Knights had 20 assists on their 26 made field goals.
They opened the second half on a 14-4 run, capped by a Troutman assist to Tyler Jenkins for a lay in that made it 55-43.
Findlay got within 10 on a Trey Smith jumper, but the Knights answered with back-to-back three's by Davis and Troutman. Bellarmine hit 13-29 triples in the game.
"Just being able to play in front of everybody and play for our teammates and play for coaches, this all a basketball player could ever want," Davis said.
The Knights are now 31-3 and have won 44 straight games in Knights Hall. Up next is a trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota next week for the Elite Eight.
The quarterfinal games are on Wednesday, March 22, the semifinals on Thursday, March 23 and the National Championship is on Saturday, March 25 at 3 p.m. on CBS.
The field will be reseeded after the East Region final between (5) St. Thomas Aquinas and (3) Saint Rose is played on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Joining (1) Bellarmine in Sioux Falls will be (1) Fairmont State, (7) Rollins, (1) Northwest Missouri State, (2) Lincoln Memorial, (1) Colorado Mines, and (6) Chico State.