March 15, 2009

Courtesy of Lake Superior Athletics

FINDLAY, Ohio - Lake Superior State and Bellarmine traded scoring runs throughout Sunday's NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal game, but the Knights put the game out of reach during the final minute, ending the Lakers' milestone men's basketball season.

Eighteenth-ranked Bellarmine (26-6), which was the tournament's No. 2 seed, defeated sixth-seeded LSSU 92-83 to advance to Tuesday's regional championship game. BU improved to 10-3 for the season against the other seven teams in the regional tournament field.

Senior guard Chartrael Hall and sophomore guard Justin Benedetti combined to score 52 points for the Knights, who shot 62.5 percent from the field. Hall and LSSU's Tim VanOudheusden are both all-region first team honorees.

BU forced LSSU (22-9) to commit an uncharacteristic 15 turnovers and kept the ball out of Laker senior center Ryan Kuhl's hands. Kuhl was held to six shots and five points. Junior Scott Perkins led the Lakers with 19 points, and senior guard Mark Morse followed with 18. Junior Garrett Konuszewski and VanOudheusden scored 10 points each.

Mike Rader and VanOudheusden combined to make three three-pointers, and Morse converted a three-point play as LSSU went on a 16-2 run to come back from an 11-point deficit midway through the first half. Bellarmine bounced back to lead 42-37 at halftime.

Morse and Konuszewski hit three-pointers to trim a 10-point BU lead to six points, 52-46, with 15:06 remaining. The Lakers also cut a 13-point deficit to four points, 69-65, with 5:05 to go.

It was a five-point game, 73-68, with three minutes left. BU's Braydon Hobbs hit a three-pointer at the 2:37 mark. Hall rebounded a Laker miss, was fouled and made two free throws with two minutes remaining, and Hobbs sank two more free throws at 1:48.

Perkins made a three-pointer at 1:42, and Kyle Hunt converted a three-point play 10 seconds later to keep the Lakers' hopes alive. Hall's three-point play with 1:19 remaining secured the Bellarmine win.

BU was 30-of-48 from the field, made 5-of-16 three-point field-goal attempts and hit 27-of-39 free throws.

LSSU shot 44.3 percent from the field, including 15-of-32 (46.9 percent) from three-point range. The Lakers made 14-of-18 free throws. Kuhl, Konuszewski, Perkins, Hunt and VanOudheusden all fouled out.

Both teams totaled 30 rebounds.

Seniors Morse, VanOudheusden, Kuhl, Rader and Anthony Gibson concluded their memorable careers, which included the school's second NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament appearance (the other was in 1996), a school-record 17 conference victories and the program's first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division title.