By Dalton McGlone, Staff Writer
The University of Southern Indiana handed Bellarmine its first loss of the regular season Saturday, defeating the Knights 80-76 and snapping their 67-game home win streak. The Knights are now 18-1 overall and 9-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
“They deserved to win,” Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport said. “They shot better than us from the field. They shot better from the 3-point line. They outrebounded us by nine. They outplayed us in every single category. Give them credit. They are a really good basketball team.”
The Screaming Eagles (15-5, 9-1 GLVC) jumped out early in the first half and led by as many as 18. Bellarmine went on a run before halftime to cut the deficit to eight.
With two minutes left, Bellarmine forward Alex Cook made two free throws and a layup to tie the game. Senior guard Alex Stein responded with a clutch jumper that put USI back on top and forced Bellarmine to intentionally foul. USI converted its free throws to put away the Knights.
Five USI players scored in double figures. Junior guard Kobe Caldwell shot 4-of-6 from 3-point line to lead the team with 18 points. The Eagles shot over 50 percent from the field and went 9-of-19 from behind the arc.
The Eagles also played tough defense. They forced 12 Bellarmine turnovers and gave up few open looks.
“The thing about practicing for Bellarmine is you have to think on a deeper level defensively,” USI head coach Rodney Watson said. “We did a great job to hold them to 43 percent (from the field) in the first half. Other than a little stretch in the first half, we played very well.”
Injuries played a factor for the Knights. Senior forward Adam Eberhard entered the game with a back injury and played only 18 minutes. Senior guard Daniel Ramser injured his knee with six minutes left and sat out the rest of the game.
Davenport said: “We’re banged up. Adam tried to go tonight. He just couldn’t. He didn’t practice all week. Tyler (Jenkins) had the flu and only practiced the last day and a half. Daniel’s knee is being evaluated right now. It appears to be very stable.”
Despite recently fighting the flu, Jenkins played a great game for the Knights. He scored 22 points on just nine shots and made all three of his 3-point attempts.
Jenkins said: “(USI) was just over-extended in gaps. They like to play in the passing lanes. When you see that as a guard, you get wide-open lanes. Even their rotations are a little slow. If I saw that they were spread out, (driving to the basket) was the read I made.”
Bellarmine looks to get back on track against Lewis University (15-4, 7-3 GLVC) in Romeoville, Illinois, on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.