SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WDRB) -- After two games against Atlantic Coast Conference competition, the Bellarmine University basketball team now knows a few things about itself: It can play with Power 5 opponents, but it has some end-game issues to correct.
It also knows that not many teams in Division I are going to want to schedule the Knights in the non-conference after they make the step up at the end of this season.
It’s too much of a risk. With 2:40 to play, the Knights trailed Louisville by two, then were outscored 9-1 at the end. With two minutes to play at Notre Dame on Friday night, they trailed by three but were outscored 7-0 the rest of the way to fall 61-51.
For most D-1 coaches, Bellarmine may be scarier than Halloween. But Knights coach Scott Davenport may be having nightmares about the opportunities lost.
“The experience for our players has been tremendous,” Davenport said. “The whole day, the walk-through, was phenomenal. But you break the game down, Louisville outscores us on second-chance points 17-2. Notre Dame outscores us 15-0. Now their length has a lot to do with that. We didn’t see that at Louisville because of Malik Williams’ and Steven Enoch’s injuries. So tonight on challenged shots, we’re 5-26, which I attribute to their length. Unchallenged shots, open shots, we go 14 out of 25, 56%. So that’s what the game, from a physical standpoint, boils down to.”
Bellarmine did some good things on the defensive end. It held Notre Dame to 32.3% shooting in the second half.
But it wasn’t a good offensive night for Bellarmine. Down just three in the final two minutes, it got stops with a chance to cut into that deficit further, but on back-to-back trips missed layups. The Knights finished 8-for-17 from point-blank range on the night.
“It’s simple math: We’ve outshot both opponents, but they’ve both taken more shots than we got,” Davenport said. “Tonight, they took 12 more shots than us. If we get equal number of shots, it’s a dead-even game. But we’ve got to get more shots. I was thrilled with the effort, but just the sloppiness and the exact same result we saw Tuesday night, that’s disappointing.”
Bellarmine grabbed a 19-18 lead late in the first half, then Notre Dame went to a 2-3 zone defense and the Knights got tentative, and wound up trailing 30-21 at the half.
In the locker room, Davenport told his team he was disappointed that it hadn’t learned a lesson from the Louisville loss, and confused that it slept-walk through a half after it had kicked away an opportunity just three nights before.
Bellarmine was better in the second half, but in the end, not good enough. Only two Knights players scored in double figures, Ethan Claycomb with 11 and Dylan Penn with 10. Notre Dame got 18 points from Prentiss Hubb and 15 from John Mooney.
“We got it in there against the zone where we wanted it, but we didn’t finish,” Davenport said. “We got challenged shots. Look, we got good experience, but we’ve got to be better. We start Friday night with three big games that are in-region. These games have postseason ramifications. So we’ve got to go. . . . We’ve got to do a better job at teaching them. If you give a quiz and 80 percent of your class fails the quiz, that’s on the teacher. So we’ve got to teach them better.”
The Knights face Northwood on Friday and Saginaw Valley State on Saturday in Knights Hall.
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