ROMEOVILLE, Ill.--The Bellarmine University men's basketball team improved to 14-0 by holding off the Lewis Flyers 66-54 on Thursday night in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Neil Carey Arena.
The homestanding Flyers held the Knights to a season-low 48.9 percent shooting, but Bellarmine converted 14 of 15 free throws and nailed eight three-pointers to keep the Flyers at arm's length.
Bellarmine broke open on top with Lewis taking a brief 6-5 lead in the early going. That was the only time the scoreboard favored the home team as the Knights quickly regained and held the lead. However, Bellarmine could never generate separation as the Flyers stayed within striking distance until the final minutes, and the 12-point margin of victory also represented the game's largest lead.
In the first half, Lewis switched to a zone defense that seemed to pay dividends as the Knights were held without a basket for just over eight minutes starting at the 15:13 mark. Bellarmine got just two free throws from Chivarsky Corbett during that span. The Knights' defense held up during their offensive cold spell to maintain an 18-16 lead as Lewis managed just six points during that span. Both teams then found an offensive spark to close the opening 20 minutes with Bellarmine taking a 31-26 lead into the locker room.
The Flyers came out hot in the second half, drilling four of their first five 3-pointers to close the gap to 40-38 at the 15:05 mark. The Knights answered with a quick 5-0 run as Adam Eberhard converted on a pass from Corbett and CJ Fleming came up with a steal then drained a triple.
Lewis made one more push and got within four at 50-46, but the Flyers missed their final three attempts from long range while the Knights took care of the ball and made free throws coming down the stretch to expand their lead and seal the win.
"That's two really good teams playing," said Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport in his postgame comments. "Both teams played well. I think statistically we won the game by holding them to 41 percent shooting in the second half. And, and we had 22 baskets on 19 assists." A fact Davenport said is important because, "when you're facing a lot of zone, you need to be able to create defensive transition baskets and get assists leading to easy baskets."
"This was a great game for us," Davenport added, "because they took the Maryville recipe. They shortened the game...and then they go zone, and we're likely going to see 75 percent zone on Saturday."
Bellarmine's Brent Bach, the reigning GLVC Player of the Week, led all scorers with 21 points. Adam Eberhard dropped in 19 points and added four rebounds and four assists.
Senior guard Jarek Coles posted an impressive stat line with 11 points, six assists, three steals and just one turnover. He also was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. "I thought Jarek Coles was tremendous," Davenport said. "He played just great."
Delaney Blaylock totaled 14 points to lead the Flyers with Cristen Wilson chipping in 12 points and corralling six rebounds to tie Bellarmine's Corbett for game-high rebounding honors.
With their 14th straight win, the Knights tie the 2008-09 team for best start in school history. The victory also upped BU's conference mark to 5-0 to remain the GLVC's only team without a league loss. The Flyers slip to 7-9 (2-4 GLVC).
Bellarmine moves on to play at Wisconsin-Parkside, who were idle tonight, on Saturday. Tip is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. (EST).
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