FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Cameron Adams scored 24 points to lead three Panthers in double figures and No. 3 Drury held off a strong second-half rally by Nova Southeastern for a 75-71 victory at the NSU Arena in the Taft Center on Thursday evening.
The victory pushed the Panthers' record to 9-0 overall, Drury's best start since the 1989-90 season. It also meant a 2-0 mark for the Panthers in the Cruzin' Classic, after Wednesday's 81-80 win against No. 13 Livingstone.
It was the 32nd consecutive victory for the defending national champions, who now will take the mandatory "Life In Balance" break before coming back to host Saint Joseph's on Jan. 3.
The Panthers pulled away late in the first half to snag a 36-24 lead by the halftime break, and seemed in control until Nova Southeastern (2-8) started gradually cutting into the deficit during the final 20 minutes.
The Panthers led 58-55 with 6:31 left, but pushed the lead back to eight (63-55) by the five-minute mark, and to 11 (70-59) with 1:56 to play before missed free throws by DU and made 3-pointers by the Sharks made it interesting in the closing seconds. A 3-pointer by Nova's Cameron Denney as the final horn sounded accounted for the final four-point margin.
Drury hit 60 percent from the field (27 of 45) for the game, including 74 percent (14 of 19) in the opening half, while limiting the Sharks to 41 percent (24 of 59) on their home floor.
No. 2 Bellarmine 81, Fairmont State 72
FAIRMONT, W.V. -- The No. 2 Bellarmine Knights withstood a 13-0 second half run from Fairmont State, then dug in and pulled out a gritty 81-72 victory against the Fighting Falcons at Joe Retton Arena.
The Knights (8-0) got a career-high 28 points from Vance Hall and a double-double from Jake Thelen with 22 points and 11 rebounds. However, perhaps the most outstanding performance came from Corbin Maynard who came up with clutch steals and a key offensive rebound coming down the stretch.
The Knights and Fighting Falcons (7-3) went toe-to-toe in the game's early going with nine lead changes in the first 10 minutes. Bellarmine relied on its hot shooting to establish its 45-37 halftime lead as the Knights committed 10 first-half turnovers but shot 63 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
In the second period, Bellarmine quickly opened up a 12-point lead, but the Falcons upped their defensive pressure and scored 13 consecutive to take the lead 50-49. A pair of Rusty Troutman free throws put Bellarmine back on top 51-50.
After the home team wrestled the lead away, the Knights fought back and seized the lead for good at the 6:42 mark on a three-point play by Thelen.
Moments later, Maynard came up with one of his four steals, and the Knights converted it into a layup at the other end for a 69-64 lead, to give Bellarmine its first two-possession lead since 16:15 mark of the second half.
Despite several uncharacteristic free throw misses, the Knights finished the game down the stretch with solid defense and good work on the backboards to keep the Falcons at bay.
No. 8 Dixie State 83, Montana State-Billings 65
Junior guard DeQuan Thompson led Dixie State in the first half and senior forward Dalton Groskreutz took the reins in the second half pushing the Red Storm past Montana State-Billings, 83-65, to win the men's championship of the second annual Las Vegas Challenge at the Orleans Arena.
Dixie State shot 59.3 percent from the floor (32-54) to remain unbeaten at 9-0 heading into the holiday break. The Yellowjackets fell to a break even 5-5 on the year being held to 37.7 percent shooting.
Thompson had seven early points including a 3-ball that broke an 8-8 stalemate. DSU never surrendered the lead. A Zach Robbins lay-in at the 7:38 mark bumped the Storm's advantage to double figures. Mason Sawyer cashed in a floater to make the score 42-30 at the halftime break.
Groskreutz scored 14 of his career-high tying 23-point performance in the second half. His energetic outburst on a baseline shot while drawing a foul early in the period kept DSU hungry despite never seeing its lead dip back into single figures.
Thompson finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. He made all six shots from the free-throw line and pulled down a career-best seven rebounds. Robbins cashed in 14 points to round out three DSU players in double figures. Kimball Payne, like Thompson, had a personal best seven boards.
Connor Donaldson led MSUB with 18 points while Jonathan Mesghna had 11 points and eight boards.