CRAWFORD | Bach leads balanced Bellarmine past Indy and into GLVC championship game
Bellarmine jumped out to an early lead and weathered some first-half foul trouble to pull away from Indianapolis in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament in Edwardsville, Ill.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Brent Bach arrived at Bellarmine University as a 142-pound guard from Augusta, Ky., and before Labor Day he was ready to go home.
“There were more people on his dorm floor than graduated from his senior class,” Knights’ coach Scott Davenport remembered on Saturday night.
Let’s just say Bach blossomed.
These days, you can watch him as a senior driving fearlessly to the basket and leading the Knights, ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division II, in scoring from time to time, as he did on Saturday in an 83-65 Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament semifinal victory over Indianapolis.
“He’s the epitome of a guy who has made the most of his college experience, academically and athletically,” Davenport said.
Bellarmine advances to today’s GLVC Tournament final against Truman State. Tipoff is at 4:30 p.m. Eastern at SIU-Edwardsville’s Vadalabene Center. It’s the Knights’ second straight appearance in the conference tournament title game and third in the past four seasons. They’ve now won 10 straight overall, and bring a record of 27-2 into the game.
“This was an incredible performance,” Davenport said. “Our attention to detail, our preparation in the scouting report. We had a couple of lapses in transition defense, but other than rebounding in the first half, an incredible performance. We shot 54 percent, 84 from the line. This was a really, really tough basketball game.”
Bellarmine sprinted to a 21-10 lead in the opening 10 minutes, but led by just six at the half. The lead was only two in the early minutes of the second half, before Bellarmine began to pull away.
The Knights got 17 points from Adam Eberhard and Ben Weyer, and 14 from Alex Cook, who also had 11 rebounds. Eberhard added 8 rebounds and a team-best 6 assists. One night after going 0-for-10 from three-point range, they made 7 of 21 from beyond the arc.
“When they went zone, our execution was spot on,” Davenport said. “Inside out, box touch, spacing was great. But I tell you what, the first 12 minutes defensively, we were tough.”
This difference in this Bellarmine team this season has been its team defense. The Knights are second in the nation in opponent field goal percentage, and held Indianapolis to just 35.9 percent on Saturday.
With Eberhard and Jarek Coles limited in the first half by foul trouble, Bellarmine needed to use its depth, and Davenport got it from Parker Chitty and C.J. Fleming.
He also got great efficiency from his front line. Cook and Eberhard combined for 10 of 17 shooting, and Bellarmine had just one turnover in the second half.
Now Bellarmine turns its attention to Truman State, a team it beat 82-70 on the road on Feb. 17.
“They’re very similar to us and they’re playing for their NCAA Tournament life,” Davenport said. “They’re a veteran team, well-coached, shoot the three at all five spots. Their player in the five-spot took more threes than anybody on their team tonight. It’ll be a heck of a challenge.”
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