CRAWFORD | For Bellarmine, the March begins with win in GLVC tou - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | For Bellarmine, the March begins with win in GLVC tourney opener

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The No. 2-ranked Bellarmine University basketball team got a glimpse of the kind of thing that makes March Madness special at the start of their first 2015 postseason game Thursday.

Unfortunately for the Knights, the exhibition came from an opponent. Maryville's Armon Provo was unconscious in the first half of the Knights' Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament opener.

He made six first-half three pointers and put Maryville up 40-33 at the half. But Bellarmine would not fall prey to the upset. The Knights got a huge second half from Bullitt East product Rusty Troutman, who scored all 16 of his points after halftime, and had nine of them during a 20-6 run that gave the Knights control.

Troutman also banged home a pair of late threes to seal an 83-73 win, which sends the Knights on to face Indianapolis, which spent a portion of the season ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II, in the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern in St. Charles, Mo.

“I'm really proud of our guys in the second half,” Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport said on his postgame coaches show on 970-WGTK AM radio. “We had one assist the first half and shot 45 percent. We had eight assists the second half and shot 59 percent.”

Bellarmine turned it over an uncharacteristic 11 times in the first half, but point guard Chris Whitehead kept them close. While Provo was erupting for 21 points in the first half, Whitehead had 18 at halftime on 5-6 shooting and 5-5 from the free-throw line.

The senior from New Albany by way of Fordham has come into his own late in the season. Over the past eight games, he has averaged 19.6 per contest and shot 63.4 percent from the field. He also had six steals on Thursday — four in the second half, to help the Knights muster the defense they needed.

“Typical Chris doing Chris things,” Troutman told WGTK. “That really sparked us.”

The Knights (26-2) had been off for a week, and had battled a bit of a flu bug, while Maryville was building steam, beating UMSL decisively before pulling off the GLVC first-round upset at Southern Indiana.

They kept the momentum going against Bellarmine, but Davenport said the Knights ramped up their second half defense, started getting deflections, and stopped turning the ball over themselves, with only four turnovers after halftime.

In the second half, he said, “we missed 13 shots and got five offensive rebounds, so we were literally scoring every possession. Our defense has got to get back being a little more tenacious.”

Josh Derksen had 16 points, and Jake Thelen, who accepted his GLVC Player of the Year award before the game, turned in his usual double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Knights went to the line 28 times and made 24.

“I keep saying every day in practice, it's going to come down to free throws,” Davenport said.

The Knights are playing for seeding in the region, and a chance to play the all-important regional games at home. They'll need to get past Indianapolis at least one more time. They lost to the Greyhounds 66-62 on Jan. 15 in Indianapolis -- but that was their last loss. They've since won 14 straight, including a 73-65 win over Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago in Louisville. Win or lose, they'll likely have to tangle with them one more time in the regional.

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