By Spencer Brown, Staff Writer
Bellarmine defended its home court Saturday by defeating the University of Southern Indiana 66-61.
Junior guard Mikayla Berry came off the bench to lead the Knights (10-8, 4-6 Great Lakes Valley Conference) with 23 points. Louisville native Ashley Johnson recorded 19 points and five steals to lead the Screaming Eagles (14-6, 7-3 GLVC).
It was all USI in the first quarter as the Eagles went on a 12-1 run to snatch a commanding lead. BU’s Katie Downey beat the buzzer with a layup to cut the deficit to seven at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles continued their solid play in the second quarter and carried a 40-29 lead into halftime.
With 4:30 left in the third, the Knights found themselves down 45-35. Slowly, they chipped away at the deficit. Over the next two minutes, Berry knocked down three free throws and center Allie Mayhaus scored two baskets to cut USI’s lead to three.
“We got some really great stops coming out of the half,” Bellarmine head coach Chancellor Dugan said. “Allie made some huge buckets for us to get us going.”
Berry drilled a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:46 left in the quarter to cap a 10-0 run that tied the score.
Katie Downey said the team came out motivated in the second half.
“Coach Dugan really emphasized coming out of the half by stomping on the gas, and the whole team bought in,” Downey said.
Sophomore Taylor Hunter hit a step-back jumper just inside the 3-point line with 8:09 left to give Bellarmine its first lead since the beginning of the first quarter. After USI guard Alex Davidson tied the game at 51, Berry drove into the paint to reclaim the Knights’ lead, which they held for the remainder of the game.
Clutch free throws down the stretch allowed Bellarmine to build a nine-point lead with 45 seconds left. However, USI wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Johnson scored the Eagles’ next eight points to cut Bellarmine’s lead to two. After Mayhaus knocked down one of two free throws with 18 seconds left, USI’s Kennedy Williams missed what would’ve been the game-tying 3-pointer. The Knights secured the rebound and iced the game at the line.
The Knights will travel to Illinois to face No. 18 Lewis University (18-2, 9-1 GLVC) Thursday at 6:30 p.m.