Fleming, Pfrem Lead Bellarmine Victory
(Courtesy: Bellarmine Athletics) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Bellarmine University men’s basketball team had worked too hard to maintain its lead against Eastern Kentucky to let it slip away. And when it mattered most, senior guard CJ Fleming made sure that didn’t happen. With less than 15 seconds remaining, Fleming converted an old-fashioned three-point play that officially turned back a furious rally by the Colonels as the Knights pulled out a heart-stopping 66-61 win in ASUN action Saturday night in Freedom Hall. Three different players for Bellarmine (7-8, 1-0 ASUN) either matched or set new career highs in scoring. Against Eastern Kentucky (8-8, 0-2), Fleming tied his highwater mark with 22 points, junior guard Alec Pfriem piled up a career- and game-high 23 on 8-for-10 shooting and freshman forward Curt Hopf set a new standard with 15 on 7-for-9 accuracy, all in front of a D1-era record crowd in Freedom Hall of 2,782.”For my demographic, that was Saturday night in Freedom Hall,” Knights Coach Scott Davenport said of the record-breaking figure. “These players appreciate it.” Fans certainly got their money’s worth in Bellarmine’s ASUN opener. Despite being off since Dec. 21 and continuing to be shorthanded, the Knights rocketed out to a 20-point lead in the first half and responded when the advantage dwindled to three with 11:28 remaining in the second stanza, pushing back to go up 13 after a 10-0 run behind consecutive 3-pointers from Fleming and a pair of interior baskets by Hopf. The second bucket by Hopf in the sequence came with 6:57 left. However, Eastern Kentucky raced back to within 63-61 with 2:29 remaining and had multiple chances to tie or take the lead, the last coming on an errant 3-point attempt by Braxton Beverly with 53 seconds left. Fleming grabbed the rebound, and after Bellarmine’s possession was extended on two EKU fouls, rose high from the left elbow and buried a jump shot while being fouled. With 12 seconds left, he canned the ensuing free throw to effectively seal the win after providing the Knights with a 66-61 lead.” I was fortunate enough to make that, but the game doesn’t come down to that. It wasn’t just one play,” said Fleming, who in the game tied 2011 D2 national championship member Justin Benedetti on the all-time list with his 200th career 3-pointer. “... It was the whole team. It has to be against a team like this. They’re never going to wilt.” Bellarmine shot 50 percent from the floor, including a solid 40.9-percent clip from deep (9-22). The Knights limited EKU to 38.6-percent shooting, but the Colonels hit seven 3-pointers in the second half and 11 overall in 34 attempts. They also forced the Knights into 13 turnovers in the second half, the primary reason Bellarmine couldn’t pull away for good, but BU made the necessary plays down the stretch.” It was the resiliency of this team,” said Pfriem, who also had nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. “We knew they were going to make a run. We just had to keep battling.” Behind Pfriem, who in the first half scored 15 of his points and nailed three of his five 3-pointers, Bellarmine bolted out to a 10-point advantage less than five minutes into the game and boosted it to 20 at the 4:44 mark before carrying a 41-29 lead into the break. All five of Bellarmine’s starters, including senior guard Juston Betz, who corralled a game-high 10 rebounds, and senior guard Dylan Penn, who had game highs of six assists and three blocks, played at least 35 minutes.Said Davenport: “It took every ounce of everything every kid had.” Bellarmine will host Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. (ET) Tuesday in Freedom Hall.” They beat Eastern (Kentucky) at Eastern - that’s all you need to know,” Davenport said.
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