LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – One thing the Bellarmine men’s basketball team has done exceptionally well in its first NCAA Division I season is shoot. The Knights came into Monday night’s College Basketball Invitational opener against Army ranked No. 3 in the nation in field goal percentage.
It was no surprise, then, that they made four of their first six shots to take an early lead. What was a big surprise was when they made almost nothing else for the rest of the half to trail by 9 at the break.
Adversity, however, is nothing new for this group. Pedro Bradshaw, who left the game with just over six minutes left in the first half after being shaken up, didn’t come back until after halftime. And the Knights’ shooting eye returned, too. They shot 64% in the second half, held Army to 31 and stormed back for a 77-67 victory — their first in the postseason at the Division I level in Daytona Beach, Florida.
"Great effort, great discipline," coach Scott Davenport said after the game. "That may be two of the most disciplined teams in the country. Their players haven’t been off their campus at West Point except to play basketball for four months. They weren’t allowed to leave. My admiration for them is much, much larger than just basketball. We recruited two of those young men, so I understand the type of young men they have. And the discipline we played with after getting in foul trouble was a hug key to the game."
Bellarmine had to deal with Bradshaw, Alec Pfreim, C.J. Fleming and Ethan Claycomb all in foul trouble.
Bradshaw was brilliant. He finished with 31 points, including 21 in the second half. He went 8 of 19 from the field but 14 of 16 from the free-throw line. Fleming provided clutch 3-point shooting, making 5 of 7 from beyond the arc to finish with 17 points. And Dylan Penn added 15 points.
"We created some things to try and get some isolations for him, and in the first half, he was trying so hard," Davenport said. "At halftime, I challenged him to be patient. He wants it so bad. He does. First half he was 3 for 11. So he went 5 for 8 in the second half and got to the line 16 times. Had 11 rebounds and he only played 27 minutes."
Just as impressive was the Bellarmine defense once in foul trouble. It held Army to just four field goals after the under-eight media timeout in the second half.
The Knights took a measure of control with a 14-3 run early in the second half, then went on a 9-2 spurt after the second media timeout to take a 5-point lead to 12. Bradshaw went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final minute.
After the game, Davenport’s interview kept being interrupted by text messages dinging into his phone.
"I know," he said, laughing. "People care, man. They do. I got a text walking over here from (Bellarmine president) Dr. (Susan) Donovan that, it’s hard not to be emotional. I’ve got people that have impacted my life. I can see them flash. You’ve got to thank them. They care enough to write, you’ve got to thank them. You guys don’t have to text me later, though (he said to reporters)."
Now the Knights have a quick turnaround. They will face Pepperdine at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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