Drury took down Bellarmine 67-61 on Tuesday to win its 20th consecutive game – tying a school record – and earn the program’s first trip to the NCAA quarterfinals.
The Panthers (28-4) will now travel to Louisville, Ky., to take on South Carolina Aiken at historic Freedom Hall in the national quarterfinals next Thursday, March 28. Game times are yet to be announced.
Senior point guard Brandon Lockhart, named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player, scored 21 points, added eight assists and five steals and played all 40 minutes to guide the Panthers to the victory.
Drury shot just 40 percent from the field (22 of 55), the Panthers’ second-worst FG effort of the season. Senior guard Alex Hall had his toughest shooting night at home, making just 5 of 16 attempts (and 3 of 9 from 3-point range) in a 15-point effort.
Drury built a nine-point lead (46-37) with 10:45 to go on a layup by Lockhart, but the Knights countered with a 13-0 run that stunned the Panthers and the capacity crowd at The O’ to grab a 50-46 advantage – their first lead of the game – with just 6:47 to play.
Hall swished home a three, and then missed a breakaway dunk attempt, but Lockhart was there to grab the rebound and eventually worked the ball back into the corner for another Hall 3-pointer, which put the Panthers back on top 52-50. Drury never trailed again.
Bellarmine’s Chris Dowe scored a layup with 22 seconds left to cut the deficit to two (61-59).
But Hall bounced back to hit two free throws at the 21-second mark to push it back to four, and after Dowe turned it over, a dunk by Cameron Adams off a feed from Hall with 10 seconds left sealed the deal. Hall followed two Dowe free throws with a slam of his own with a second to go for the final six-point margin.
Adams finished with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Panthers, who beat the Knights (24-8) on the boards 36-27.
Dowe finished with 20 points to lead the Knights and joined Lockhart, Hall, BU’s Vance Hall and Michigan Tech’s Ali Haidar on the all-tourney team.