CRAWFORD | Bellarmine parades past Drury 84-60 to open NCAA play - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Bellarmine parades past Drury 84-60 to open NCAA play

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Photo by Eric Crawford, WDRB. Photo by Eric Crawford, WDRB.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — They poured into Knights Hall from the St. Patrick's Day parade on Bardstown Road. Now Bellarmine University basketball coach Scott Davenport wants to have a parade every day.

He might even foot the bill after a raucous home crowd of 2,036 helped the Knights get off to a rousing start in the NCAA Division II Tournament with an 84-60 win over Drury on Saturday.

It was the same Drury team that beat the Knights in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championship game last Sunday. Bellarmine had nearly a full week to stew after that loss. But the No. 3-ranked Knights didn't just stew.

CRAWFORD | Bellarmine's 'beautiful game' has Knights on brink of another postseason run

“As soon as that game was over, we refocused,” senior George Suggs said.

And the focus was defense. With assistant coach and former University of Louisville standout Reece Gaines ramping up the defensive instruction and the Knights rededicating their efforts in scouting and preparation, Bellarmine shut down an outside attack that had torched them for 61 percent shooting and 11 of 19 threes six days before.

“It didn't take a whole lot for us to get excited about this one, with the huge crowd out there and coming off that loss on Sunday,” Suggs said. “We felt like we missed out on something. And going into this, everybody in the locker room kind of knew, we were about to go out and do it. They're  great team, and we knew we were going to get their best shot, but they got our best shot too.”

Davenport said Gaines took the defensive preparation for this tournament personally, just the way he did when he was a player.

“What you saw out there today, you saw the Reece Gaines as a coach that Louisville fans saw as a player,” Davenport said. “That personal pride, no matter the challenge. . . . He transferred that into coaching this week, it was very personal. I knew what we were going to see tonight. He worked with these guys, and this is what coaching is about. It's not just about being a recruiter or a teacher, it's about being a complete basketball coach.”

Drury came in playing its best basketball of the season. But Bellarmine took control from the start. The Knights jumped out to a 12-3 lead. Drury pulled back within 20-17, then the Knights got three-pointers from Rusty Troutman and Josh Derksen and a layup from Jake Thelen to extend their lead back to 11.

Derksen missed the last game with Drury with the flu. He thought his parents, who had been visiting for the month from Australia, were going to miss this game. They were scheduled to return home Saturday morning, but their flight was canceled. At Knights Hall, they got to see their son make a difference. He had 14 first-half points and 17 points and four assists for the game. He scored the last four points of the first half to put Bellarmine up 11, then an 11-0 run early in the second half put them up 20, and Drury never really threatened after that.

“We defended, one through five, for forty minutes team wise as well as you could do it, and they still shot 46 percent,” Davenport said. “ . . . We played with tremendous poise, and tremendous unselfishness. And when I say that everybody's going to point to 22 assists (on 31 made shots), but we played with great unselfishness on defense. We really gave it up for each other on defense.”

All five Bellarmine starters reached double figures. Helen had 21 on 9-11 shooting, including his second collegiate three-pointer. Suggs finished with 11, Troutman and Chris Whitehead had 10. The Knights went 16-21 from the free-throw line, and shot 63.3 percent for the game, 31-49. They missed only 18 shots, but grabbed five offensive rebounds, and scored off all five, for 10 second-chance points.

Corbin Maynard, a DeSales product, added five points, three assists and two steals off the bench. Michael Parrish, a Fern Creek High product who generously listed at 5-8 and who was placed on scholarship by Davenport at the semester break, had seven points, including a pull-up three-pointer on the fast break late with the game well in hand. (Read about Parrish's surprise scholarship offer, and his inspiring story, here.)

“They're our rugrats,” said Davenport, noting that Saturday was Parrish's 21st birthday. “I don't know why he shot the pull-up three. It's his birthday so I let that pass. We've got surveillance cameras on every bar on Bardstown Road, he's absolutely forbidden. We've got him on quarantine.”

It's all right. Bellarmine's players partied enough on the basketball court Saturday, with 2,000 of their closest friends.

“In my ten years, Knights Hall was phenomenal,” Davenport said. “I hope it was the St. Patricks' Day parade that got them going in Knights Hall. If that's the case, let's have another parade tomorrow.”

The Knights (28-3) will hope for more of the same when they face No. 22-ranked Lake Superior State (25-6) on Sunday at 7:30 in Knights Hall. The Lakers needed overtime to beat Ferris State 78-69.

“It was special,” Thelen said of the crowd. “Coming out for warmups, it was louder than it's been all season.”

Suggs said, “That was the most fun I've had since being at Bellarmine. That was such a good time. The team fed off the crowd. When we ran out the crowd went crazy. At halftime they went crazy. In the game, they were going crazy. It's hard not to play hard when you're in the middle of that.”

And the fun may be just beginning for Bellarmine, which now stands two wins away from a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in Evansville.

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