EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Using its smothering defense, top-ranked Bellarmine defeated its rivals from across the bridge, Indiana-Southeast 79-69 in the opening game of the Bill Joergens Memorial Classic behind 25 points from Jeremy Kendle.

The No. 1 Knights move to a perfect 4-0 on the season, while Indiana-Southeast falls to 5-3. The Grenadiers have connected on 80 of 200 (.400) shots from beyond the arc on the season, but Bellarmine played tough defense all night, forcing Indiana-Southeast into shooting just 5-21 (.238) from long range.

“We had a great week of practice where we focused on defending the three pointer,” Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport said. “I thought we did a good job of controlling the game, especially in the first half.”

Bellarmine opened the game by jumping out to a quick 9-0 lead, but Indiana-Southeast countered with a 7-0 run of their own to pull within two at the 14:09 mark. From that point, Bellarmine seized control of the half, extending their lead out to 18 points on a free throw by Kendle with 1:40 to go in the half.

Defensively, the Knights were menacing on defense, forcing Indiana-Southeast to hit just one of 10 three pointers in the first half to take a 36-20 lead at the break. The Knights were locked in on offenses as well, hitting 14-27 (.519) shots while committing just four turnovers.

Keeping the defensive intensity up in the second period, as senior Aaron Robison drew back-to-back charges midway though the half, Bellarmine extended the lead out to as much as 26 in the game. Not willing to lay down though, Indiana-Southeast battled back and closed within eight points in the final minute, but the final horn sounded, giving the Knights the 79-69 victory.

In all, 12 players saw action for the Knights including freshmen Corbin Maynard and Stephen Asihene, who both saw their first action of their Bellarine careers. Kendle's 25 led all scorers in the game as senior point guard Braydon Hobbs chipped in 19 points and tied a career high hitting five 3-pointers. Chris Dowe (10) and Keisten Jones (11) also reached double figures.

“Everyone on the team practices hard everyday so it's a great opportunity for them to be out there against a quality opponent like IUS,”  Davenport commented. “Playing two games on back-to-back days is great preparation for the postseason for the entire team.”