March 14th, 2017
BU advances to Elite Eight with win over Findlay
Bellarmine’s basketball team can start planning for their trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The top-seeded Knights used a strong second half to cruise past visiting sixth-seeded Findlay 84-66 Tuesday night to win the Midwest Region for the fourth time in seven years.
“The similarity between the team two years ago is our togetherness,” Bellarmine star Rusty Troutman who was on the team that won the region two years ago said. “We are extremely close this year. We do everything together. The difference this year is our rebounding. We are a little bit better at that.”
Findlay (25-7) hit 5 of 6 from three-point land to start the game and led 21-17 with 14:52 remaining in the first half.
“Our key early was to penetrate and move the ball,” Findlay star Taren Sullivan said. “When they collapsed on us we knew that our shooters would be open. We found them and they fell in the first half. In the second half I felt like we still got the same open looks but some of the shots didn’t go in.”
Bellarmine (31-3) then locked in on defense and held the Oilers to 5 of 25 (20 percent) from three-point land the rest of the game.
“We were closing out but really we were getting there to watch them shoot it,” Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport said. “The challenge was late. We wanted to make their three-point shooters bounce the basketball. It kind of started rolling like that after the first 10 minutes of the first half. Then it was pretty impressive. They only had 27 points in the second half after scoring 21 points in the first five minutes.”
The Knights only led 41-39 at the half but opened up the second half with a 14-4 run and outscored Findlay 43-27 the rest of the way.
Findlay trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half.
Troutman was named Most Outstand Player of the Midwest Region and scored a game high 26 points hitting 7 of 11 from the field including 3 of 6 from three, made 9 of 10 from the foul line, and grabbed six rebounds.
“We shot lights out, both teams were hitting everything early,” Troutman said. “Finally we started playing great defense. We were able to pull away in the second half when we started hitting shots and kept going because we were never really satisfied.”
Al Davis added 21 points making 7 of 13 from the floor including 3 of 6 three pointers.
“We started doing what we do,” Davis said. “We moved the ball, we went inside-out, and that allowed us to start hitting shots.”
Adam Eberhard recorded nine points and nine rebounds while Tyler Jenkins finished with seven points and three rebounds.
“They hit a lot of threes at the start of the game but that’s what they do,” Eberhard said. “We started stopping them and that allowed us to grab some rebounds and get out and run our offense. That got us going offensively. From there we got the ball to the middle and that really opened things up.”
Sullivan led Findlay with 22 points, shot 4 of 5 from three, and grabbed eight rebounds. Martyce Kimbrough added 12 points, Trey Smith finished with 11 points, and Elijah King recorded 10 points.
Bellarmine shot 26 of 50 (52 percent) from the field including 13 of 29 (39.2 percent) from three-point land and hit 19 of 23 (82.6 percent) from the charity stripe.
“Bellarmine is so unselfish,” Findlay head coach Charlie Ernst said. “They’re always under control in the dribble penetration. They move so well without the ball and do it so much better than anyone we play. It’s hard to prepare for them on such short notice. We change defenses a lot anyway so that helps a little but it wasn’t enough. Our zone worked better than our man but then you struggle to rebound and they got some tips to keep possessions alive.”
In trademark fashion, the Knights had 20 assists on 26 made baskets and seven players had at least two assists.
“That’s pretty much the game right there,” Davenport said of the assists. “We held them to 31 percent shooting in the second half while we shot 61 percent in the second half and our defense created our offense. But the story is these are incredible young men. We all try to teach and when you have 14 students ready to learn, you can’t wait to teach.”
The Oilers hit 24 of 61 (39.3 percent) from the field including 10 of 32 (31.3 percent) from three after shooting 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) including 8 of 17 (47.1 percent) from three-point land in the first half.
Bellarmine advances to the Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota but will not know their opponent until Wednesday night.
The NCAA will reseed the final eight teams. Quarterfinal games will be played Wednesday, March 22, semifinal games will be on Thursday, March 23, and the championship will be Saturday, March 25 at 3 p.m. EDT.