No. 2 Bellarmine turns back challenge
Late surge pushes Knights to 21-1 on the season
ROLLA, Mo. -- No. 2 fought off a challenge from Missouri University of Science and Technology to record an 87-73 victory Sunday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference contest at Billy Key Court.
The Knights improved to 21-1 on the season and ran their perfect GLVC record to 14-0. The Miners fell to 4-17 and 2-12 in league.
Missouri S&T kept it close during the first 20 minutes by hitting seven of 10 3-point field-goal attempts. Bellarmine countered with a strong first-half performance by Luke Sprague, who had 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting in the opening period.
In the second half, the scrappy S&T team kept the game within reach until Jeremy Kendle and Braydon Hobbs hit back to back 3s to give the Knights an 18-point cushion with just 1:19 remaining.
Coach Scott Davenport, who has won a Kentucky high school state title and coached in the NCAA Final Four at Louisville, reflected on the rarity of winning 21 of 22 games.
"I've never been 21-1 in my life at any level," Davenport said. "To be 14-0 and 8-0 on the road in this league is unbelievable."
In addition to Sprague, who finished with 20 points, Bellarmine got solid performances all over the court. Kendle pitched in 17 points and collected a career-high nine assists while Justin Benedetti and Hobbs also reached double digits with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Missouri S&T was led by Tommy Pelczynski and Bryce Foster, who each totaled 20 points.
Both teams shot the ball well with Bellarmine -- ranked second in the country in field goal percentage -- making 30 of 55 shots for 54.5 percent. The Miners finished with a 47.4 shooting percentage (27 of 57). After hitting 70 percent of their treys in the first half, Bellarmine held the home team to just 3 of 13 from beyond the arc in the second period.
Bellarmine won the battle of the backboards 32-26 with excellent team rebounding. Three different Knights grabbed five rebounds, and three more teammates had four rebounds.