By Quin Welch, Sports Editor
Bellarmine men’s basketball coach Scotty Davenport knew Quincy University’s team wouldn’t go down without a fight.
“How can anybody be surprised? We had tremendous respect for them,” Davenport said. “They just beat Southern Indiana on the road. They’re not going to quit ever, not in this league. Not when you’re leading your division.”
Yes, Davenport knew his No. 9 Knights would face a stiff test from the Hawks on Saturday night. And while he probably would have preferred a larger margin of victory than the two-point squeaker Bellarmine managed to pull out, he seemed to be happy with his team’s effort. To Davenport, Saturday night was special.
“Incredibly, incredibly proud of our players,” Davenport said. “This was a very special game.”
What may have made the game special was the Knights’ resiliency. It was special, certainly to Davenport, because Bellarmine found a way to win even though the Hawks kept fighting, particularly with a very special weapon – the 3-point shot.
Godson Eneogwe, a Hawks senior forward, scored 11of his 19 points, including three 3-pointers, in the final 5:10 of the game to keep Quincy alive down the stretch. Davenport said Eneogwe impressed him on Saturday night.
“The kid’s an amazing kid. He had made seven (3-pointers) all year going into Thursday night and he made seven Thursday. Then he makes five tonight,” Davenport said. “That’s the three-point shot, and as you guys hear me say all the time, that’s college basketball and that’s why it’s the greatest game.”
Junior forward Rusty Troutman, who led all scorers with 23, compared Eneogwe’s shooting effort in the final five minutes to a fairly recognizable name in basketball circles.
“He had the confidence. When you have confidence, anything’s gonna go in, just like Steph Curry,” Troutman said. “He has the most confidence in the world and you see what he does out there.”
Several of the Hawks’ 3-pointers were heavily contested and were made in the faces of Bellarmine defenders. Quincy hit 14 for the night and shot 40 percent from behind the arc.
“We defended the three pretty well. They hit some tough ones on us,” Troutman said.
Despite the Hawks’ 14 three-pointers, it was not enough in the end. Bellarmine, trailing Quincy 79-77 with 1:00 left, needed a big shot of its own to keep the Knights in the game.
Senior forward George Suggs hit a 3-pointer of his own to give Bellarmine the lead with 49 seconds remaining.
After Jarek Coles fouled Enegowe with less than six seconds left, Quincy had a chance to regain the lead. However, the senior missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Michael Parrish hit a free throw on the other end to seal the BU victory.
Quincy head coach Marty Bell said the game came down to how the Knights handled themselves in the final moments of the game.
“It was pretty even all the way across the board in a lot of statistical categories,” Bell said. “Give them credit, they made a couple threes down the stretch.”
Davenport summed up the “special” thriller by saying Saturday’s contest was simply a great college basketball game.
“Two teams went out there and opened their chests up and poured every ounce of energy, emotion, and enthusiasm,” Davenport said. “Two coaching staffs did, officials did. How could you ask for anything more in a great college basketball game?”