Playing its first road game in nearly three weeks, the McKendree University men's basketball team dropped a 97-77 decision Thursday evening at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky.
The host Knights scored the first 12 points of the contest on their way to a 16-2 start and never looked back in collecting the Great Lakes Valley Conference win.
McKendree drops to 8-9 overall and 2-7 in league play.
Junior forward Logan Carson poured in a career-high 25 points, while sophomore forward Matt Murphy came off the bench to score 14 points in the final 13 minutes of play to lead the way for McKendree. Junior forward Matt Homes added 12 points and a team-leading seven rebounds in the contest for McKendree, and senior guard Clinton Happe netted 10 points for the Bearcats.
Bellarmine (14-4, 6-4 GLVC) scored on its first six possessions on the way to its 16-2 start over the first four minutes of play. McKendree regrouped and used a 10-2 run of its own to trim the deficit to 18-12 at the 12:39 mark. Four different Bearcats scored during the spurt, which included a pair of lay-ups by Holmes. McKendree eventually pulled with 21-15 on a three-pointer by Carson with 11:16 left until halftime.
At that point, Bellarmine ripped off the next eight points to stretch the lead back to double digits at 29-15. The Knights then slowly increased their lead, pushing the margin to 53-30 at the intermission. Bellarmine shot 54.1 percent from the field (20-of-37) and held a 27-11 edge on the boards in the first 20 minutes of play. The Knights' lead eventually grew to as many as 33 points in the second half before McKendree mounted a comeback bid.
An 11-0 run, fueled by a pair of breakaway baskets by Carson, helped McKendree trim the deficit to 71-49 with 11:09 remaining. Moments later, after Bellarmine pushed its advantage back to 27 points, Carson and Murphy combined for all nine points in a 9-2 spurt that enabled the Bearcats to pull within 84-69 with 4:38 on the clock.
All five starters scored in double figures for Bellarmine, which snapped a three-game losing streak with the win. Keisten Jones netted a game-high 26 points to lead the Knights, while Jake Thelen collected a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in the effort.
Bellarmine 85, McKendree 79 (women)
Brittany Willis and Caty Ponce, of Edwardsville, and Danielle Amann-Stewart combined for 58 points, but no other Bearcat reached double figures as McKendree was narrowly defeated.
Willis scored a game-high 23 points and Ponce added 21 for McKendree, which led just once. Amann-Stewart had 14 points.
The Bearcats fell to 7-10 overall and 2-7 in the GLVC, while Bellarmine improved to 10-8 and 6-4. Therese Montano led the Knights with 20 points.