CRAWFORD | Bellarmine can't miss early, uses depth late to beat No. 20 Le Moyne 79-59
Bellarmine made its first six three-point tries and blew out to a 22-2 lead on its way to a 79-59 win over No. 20-ranked Le Moyne, its 49th consecutive win in Knights Hall.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Most of the Knights Hall crowd of 2,023 had barely had time to settle into their first handful of popcorn before the No. 3-ranked Bellarmine basketball team had put No. 20 Le Moyne into a 20-point hole on Monday night.
The Knights made their first six three-pointers and led 22-2 before the game was seven minutes old. Sometimes those kinds of starts can be fool’s gold. A team will rally, cut the deficit, then have all the momentum as it tries to finish the comeback.
That wasn’t the case at Knights Hall, where Bellarmine has won 49 straight games and is targeting No. 50 in a couple of weeks. The Knights steadied themselves after Le Moyne pulled within 10, built their lead back up and eventually led by as many as 27 before prevailing 79-59.
Even if Le Moyne couldn’t stop it, the Dolphins – like everyone else – knew what they were going to get as soon as they stepped into the gym.
IMAGES | Photos from Bellarmine's win over Le Moyne
The faces change, but Bellarmine basketball doesn’t. Coach Scott Davenport’s team is going to be among the nation’s best in field goal percentage. It is going to display relentless ball movement and player movement. It is going to play team defense with an emphasis on rotating to help, and rotating to help the helper.
The funny thing is, while Davenport goes out looking for those rare qualities on the recruiting trail, a number of players are drawn to Bellarmine just from that style. They want to adapt to the team, not have the team adapt to them. That’s not generally the way things are done these days, in sports, or elsewhere.
“It’s recruiting, and they want to become us,” Davenport said. “It’s hard to recruit a kid when he wants you to become them. . . . It makes the pool smaller. But let’s talk about that (home-court winning) streak. They appreciate and take unbelievable pride in being a link to all the guys who built that streak, and at the same time working hard to hold their part of the legacy moving forward. These kids want to be Bellarmine. I’m so proud of the way they represent this school and this community.”
And they represented pretty well on the court Tuesday night, too. Le Moyne came into the game with a 9-2 record, but could get little done against Bellarmine. Even after cutting their deficit to 10, Bellarmine calmly regrouped at halftime and pushed its lead back out to 17 before the visitors needed to call a timeout.
“We try to stay in the moment and play possession by possession,” Davenport said. “That’s what a veteran team does. We practice that all the time. The score is irrelevant. It’s how you play every possession. . . . It’s a game of moments, and we just try to be on the plus side of moments by attention to detail.”
Even after having to sit All-American and leading scorer Adam Eberhard with over a dozen minutes to play in the game when he picked up his fourth foul, the Bellarmine offense flourished, and the Knights actually extended their lead. They pushed to a 27-point lead before Eberhard could return.
For many teams, losing the leading scorer with so much time still to play could be a problem. Bellarmine kept moving forward.
One help in that area came from Alex Cook, a 6-7 sophomore who has been sitting out for academic reasons. The Male High School product came off the bench to add 10 points, and to help make up for Eberhard’s absence.
“That we extended the lead says something about our team, not just who’s in the game and who took his place,” Davenport said. “You’ve known me long enough, the team is all I’m concerned about. I’m just proud of the atmosphere, grateful for everybody that came to Knights Hall tonight.”
Eberhard played just 21 minutes but still wound up with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Brent Bach led the Knights with 17 points, while Ben Weyer made four of seven three pointers and finished with 14 points.
The Knights made 29 field goals, shot 57 percent from the field, made 13 of 25 three-point tries and dished out 19 assists.
As I’ve begun to take more photographs during games, I’ve learned some “go to” places for good reaction shots. There are few places more reliable than the Bellarmine bench, which reacts enthusiastically at every positive development.
“We had guys who wanted Alex Cook to have a good night more than maybe Alex wanted it for himself,” Davenport said. “That’s when you know you have a special group, and this one can be a special group.”
The Knights will go after consecutive win No. 50 in Knights Hall when Martin Methodist College visits on Dec. 30.
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