LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When Bellarmine went to the locker room at halftime after a subpar shooting half but trailing No. 7 Purdue by only 13 points in front of a sold-out Mackey Arena, Scott Davenport said his team felt positive.
"We got great looks and missed them, and felt like we'd adjust some things in the second half and be right there," Davenport said. "We felt like they weren't going to go 13 of 13 from the line and 50% from three again."
Instead, Purdue hit the gas after the first media timeout of the second half and pulled away for a 96-67 victory.
"We were thinking, OK, we're gonna get them. We're right there," Davenport said. "Well, you give them credit. You know, I know the ranking. I understand all their preseason predictions for them. And they're, they're deep. They're incredibly physical. And they do what they do very, very well. And that's a sign of a great coach. . . . We really, really got away from what we wanted to do, and they took us out of it. Give them credit."
The Boilermakers never really cooled off from three, making 16 of 36 for the game. In fact, they took only 20 three-pointers. And while Bellarmine felt it needed to defend the lane against a much larger opponent (points in the paint went in Purdue's favor only 22-20), Davenport still is concerned at the number of threes allowed, after giving up 16 to Tiffin in the first exhibition and a large number in its regular-season finale last spring.
"We'll have we'll break down every three-point shot," Davenport said. "Was it off a catch? Was it off the bounce, did it go inside-out was it off a turnover or offensive rebound? And then we'll teach accordingly."
Bellarmine got 14 points and five assists from Dylan Penn and 14 points from CJ Fleming. The Knights improved their shooting in the second half to finish 40.7% for the game, but gave up 50% shooting in each half to Purdue, which also held a 42-22 edge on the boards.
Purdue had five players in double figures, led by Sasha Stefanovic, who finished with 23 behind 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Zach Edey added 16 points and Isaiah Thompson 15.
It's just the first of several top-ten matchups for the Knights, and Davenport said his team is going to have to shore some things up to deal with teams of that caliber.
"Our goal is not to be competitive," Davenport said. "We're trying to win a game. . . . You see what the score is. And every one of you all know me. I don't handle this well. I mean, I don't. So, it comes down to you, as a coach. You just put them in a position to be more successful. We're off tomorrow. We'll do that Thursday, Friday and then head down to Murray. You know, Murray is picked second in the OVC. An incredibly athletic basketball team. But from a teaching standpoint, this was pretty good classroom tonight."
One thing Bellarmine did win – the opening tip. How did that happen with 6-7 Nick Thelen jumping against the 7-4 Edey?
Davenport said it was a play he devised with Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz.
"It was a Walz-Davenport brain session," he said. "He got me going, and he said, 'You ought to try this.' And next thing you know, we put it in three days in practice and we ended up getting the tip. So, we'll give credit where credit is due. It's amazing how we bounce some crazy things around – but I only talk about the things that work! But we do bounce things off each other."
Bellarmine's next game comes at 8 p.m. Saturday at Murray State (ESPN+).
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