CRAWFORD | Bellarmine survives pregame scare, early deficit, dispatches Drury 82-62
A pregame scare and an early deficit couldn't shake the No. 6-ranked Bellarmine basketball team, which rolled past Drury 82-62 in Knights Hall on Thursday to end the Panthers' eight-game winning streak.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When you have a pregame meal like the Bellarmine University basketball team had on Thursday afternoon, a little early-game scare on your home court isn’t anything to worry about.
Ben Weyer, a 6-7 freshman forward, choked on some food during the meal. Assistant coach Doug Davenport immediately moved to assist him, but gave way to former Knight and current assistant Jake Thelen, who performed the Heimlich maneuver on Weyer twice before the food was dislodged and the scare was over.
“That’s the story of the day right there,” Davenport said after the game. “He might’ve saved a guy’s life.”
A few hours later, Weyer was none the worse for wear, scoring eight points and pulling down six rebounds in a balanced Bellarmine effort against a Drury team that came into Knights Hall with a 12-2 record and riding an eight-game winning streak.
Drury is one of the top offensive teams in NCAA Division II, leading the nation in three-point shooting percentage and ranking third in three-pointers made per game at 13.1. It made quick believers of Bellarmine when it jumped out to a 10-2 lead in Knights Hall, where Bellarmine has won 52 straight games.
But it’s hard to shake this Bellarmine team. They acclimated to Drury’s offensive ability quickly, and found some defensive answers to go on a massive 25-2 run midway through the half, then coasted to an 82-62 victory.
“I think we adjusted,” Davenport said. “At the second media timeout I said, ‘Are you adjusted to the game? You got this?’ And the look in their eyes was yes. We can't simulate Drury in one day preparation. By NCAA rule we had to have a day off. . . . They are incredibly good at what they do. That’s two very high-level basketball teams. There’s a great likelihood we could play them in the conference tournament and the NCAA regional tournament. That’s a good basketball team and very deep. They are averaging 29 threes a game. They shot 33 tonight.”
That was the impressive thing to me about Bellarmine on this night. Drury came out playing the same kind of opportunistic, unselfish basketball Bellarmine plays. They were two of the better-coached teams you could ask to see. Drury is aggressive defensively, forced turnovers on Bellarmine’s first two possessions and three of its first four.
But once Bellarmine’s players realized the challenge – that this was a team that wouldn’t beat itself and that was going to require a high level of execution to subdue, that’s exactly what the Knights turned in.
It takes a special level of discipline for a team to do that.
“Our attention to detail tonight was fantastic,” Davenport said.
After committing 11 turnovers with six assists in the first half, Bellarmine had 12 assists and three turnovers in the second. And it got excellent scoring balance. Chivarsky Corbett and Brent Bach led the scoring with 15 points each. Adam Eberhard had 11 points and 10 assists. Alex Cook and Jarek Coles had 10 points each. Weyer had eight.
The Knights, a pretty good three-point shooting team themselves, made just 5 of 21. But they went 19-22 at the free-throw line to just 4 of 6 for Drury.
They also shot 54.7 percent for the game while holding one of the top-shooting teams in Division II to 37.7 percent. At one point in the second half, after Eberhard hit Corbett with a perfect give-and-go for a layup, Davenport couldn’t help but just grin and shake his head. When the Knights offense is cooking, it’s beautiful.
“When you play with great players like this and the great spacing we have, great passers like Ebbie and Jarek, you’re going to get back-door cuts and I got a lot tonight,” he said. “You’ve just got to be ready for the ball.”
Bellarmine improved to 16-1 overall and 7-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Drury fell to 12-3, 5-2. The Knights return home for a Saturday afternoon game against Missouri S&T at 3:15 p.m.
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