By Quin Welch, Sports Editor
In the words of the great Ron Burgundy, “Well, that escalated quickly.”
The Bellarmine men’s basketball team defeated McKendree 78-53 on Saturday afternoon in Knights Hall by using a 19-0 run in the final 4:59 of the first half to spur the dominating victory.
With 11:09 left to play in the first half, the Knights had managed to score just nine points. Junior forward Rusty Troutman said Coach Scotty Davenport reminded his team of the pain the Knights felt after losing on the road last week against Findlay.
“Coach D said, ‘This is how we played against Findlay,’” Troutman said. “I think that got into people’s heads, and we thought, ‘We’re going to amp it up on defense and help each other, and really turn this game around.’”
The Knights clamped down on defense for the remainder of the game, allowing McKendree to shoot a pedestrian 21 of 61 (34.4 percent) from the field and an abysmal 7 of 31 (22.6 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
Davenport said he was extremely pleased with his team’s 33 defensive deflections.
“That was the best defense we’ve played all year,” Davenport said. “Deflections are an objective measure of defense and that was the highest total (of deflections) of the year. Best defense we’ve played of the year.”
Troutman said Bellarmine’s refocused defensive effort helped the Knights go on the first-half run.
“We were switching out the shooters, and they weren’t getting easy shots like they were the first 14 minutes of the game,” Troutman said. “We were helping the helper and the helper was helping the other helper. We take pride in defense now that we lost.”
Bellarmine never looked back from that crushing run. With 6:03 remaining in the game, the Knights led by 36 points.
McKendree coach Harry Statham said he believed his team’s errors greatly aided the Knights’ run.
“A lot of it (the run) was us. We went flat, missed a couple shots and they scored and the game turned around a little bit,” Statham said. “Every time we got the ball it didn’t seem like we did much, and they capitalized.”
Davenport attributed a lot of Bellarmine’s success to junior point guard Al Davis. Although Davis led all scorers with 14, Davenport said he was more impressed with both his and Michael Parrish’s defensive efforts.
“Our two leaders in deflections were Mike and Al,” Davenport said. “They set the tone defensively with their ball pressure.”
Bellarmine’s rout of McKendree was broadcast on ESPN3. Davenport said having the game broadcast by the sports network spoke to the power of Bellarmine University and its campus community.
“That’s a credit to Bellarmine and the city of Louisville. The university shined through its basketball players, but this city shines through basketball,” Davenport said. “This was all that’s right with college basketball today, and I’m just glad our guys got to be a part of it.”