CRAWFORD | Bellarmine buries Colorado Mines 92-72 to reach Division II Final Four
Bellarmine coasted past Colorado School of Mines in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight to reach its fourth Final Four in seven years under coach Scott Davenport.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It’s not really news when the Bellarmine University men’s basketball team shoots nearly 60 percent from the field in a game. The Knights lead NCAA Division II in field goal percentage and have been among the best-shooting teams in all of college basketball for years.
What makes this Bellarmine team different is what Colorado School of Mines experienced in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight quarterfinals on Wednesday afternoon: This Bellarmine team gets after you defensively, too.
In addition to shooting 58.9 percent and making 10 of 23 three-pointers (7 of 11 in the first half), Bellarmine held Mines (30-5) to just three field goals in the first 14 minutes of the second half to roll to a 29-point lead before coasting home to a 92-72 victory in Sioux Falls, S.D.
It’s the fourth win in the first round of the Elite Eight in as many tries -- and fourth trip to the Final Four in seven years -- under coach Scott Davenport for the Knights (32-3), who advance to face top-ranked and top-seeded Fairmont State in the first national semifinal Thursday night at 7 p.m.
The Knights made 33 shots and 25 of them came off assists -- a testament to their offensive teamwork. But that same team concept led to a defensive effort that stifled an opponent which came into the game ranked No. 11 in the nation in three-point shooting percentage to just 26.7 percent (4-15) from beyond the arc.
“Everybody will talk about the 25 assists on 33 baskets -- but these players truly embrace defending together,” Scott Davenport told Doug Ormay and Mark Bugg on his WGTK postgame coaches show through LouisvilleCatholicSports.net. “And this is going to sound crazy, but I think the NBA three-point line (on the court) threw us off. Not offensively, it threw us off defensively, because we were too spread. . . . But this team defends together, and it’s multiple runs. You make the next pass or the next bounce, and the next guy helps, and the next guy helps the helper, and the next guy helps the guy who helped him, and they embrace that and celebrate that.”
Bellarmine trailed only briefly in the opening minutes. The Knights took a 12-point lead on a Ben Weyer three-pointer with six minutes left in the first half and never let Mines within single digits again. They led by 16 at the half and pushed that to 25 in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half.
Two offensive plays typified how sharp Bellarmine was. The first was with 2.2 seconds left in the first half. Davenport called timeout with his team needing to go the length of the court. He put Brent Bach into the game. When the whistle blew, he had Eberhard hit Rusty Troutman with a long pass at the top of the key. Troutman drew the defense, then dished to Bach, who nailed a long three off the right wing at the buzzer.
“The passes were perfect,” Davenport said. “Adam throws it. Perfect. The thing you have to teach, 2.2 is a lot of time, because teams try to hurry. But in fairness to Mines . . . (Bach) hit a bomb. But he does that.”
The other play came on a missed dunk by Eberhard midway through the first half. Point guard Al Smith chased down the long carom and saved it to George Knott, who passed to Eberhard for another dunk -- and this one didn’t bounce out.
“Al’s effort erased the missed dunk,” Davenport said. “He saves it to keep it alive, George picks it up and throws it to Adam for another dunk. And all our guys are celebrating Al -- not the guy who made the dunk.”
Davenport praised Knott’s entire game, saying he was “as rock-solid as you can be as a basketball player.”
The Knights were led by Eberhard, who finished with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Weyer and Jarek Coles had 11 each, as Davenport used his bench liberally in the second half.
“Give those players credit,” Davenport said. “I keep saying it’s like teaching a class and they get the material and when the test comes they do great and you take great pride in it as a teacher.”
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.