Bellarmine hit McKendree hard and kept punching Thursday night.
The Knights built a 47-32 lead at halftime and kept their pedal on the metal in a 95-65 victory over the Bearcats in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game.
Bellarmine (21-4, 14-2), ranked 11th in the Division II poll, shot a sizzling 58 percent from the field (38-for-66), helping it hand the Bearcats their worst loss of the season. McKendree was limited to 37-percent shooting from the floor (26-for-71).
“Bellarmine is a tough squad,” said Bearcats junior Darin Winkelman, who scored 19 points and made four 3-pointers. “They’re one of the best in the conference, if not the best. We definitely had our hands full. We started off a little flat there and ended up pushing back within three in the first half, but we couldn’t get it closer than that.”
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Junior David Franklin added 17 points for McKendree (12-12, 5-11). The Knights had five players reach double figures, led by 14 from off the bench from junior Nick Frederick.
Senior George Suggs, a graduate of Vianney High in St. Louis, had 13 points and three 3-pointer, while juniors Al Davis and Rusty Troutman also had 13 points apiece.
Bellarmine is a tough squad. They’re one of the best in the conference, if not the best. We definitely had our hands full.
McKendree junior Darin Winkelman
“They’re deep and they’re balanced,” McKendree coach Harry Statham said. “They had those two quick guards that are lightning (Davis and senior Michael Parrish). Their big men move well and they’re good inside or outside. Troutman is a very good player wherever he plays, in or out. But they’ve got a lot of depth. Their bench is good and they shot the ball tonight.”
Knights coach Scott Davenport was pleased with the way his team performed.
“I was proud of our guys and their ability to share the ball and their ability to defend together,” he said. “(McKendree) is one of the hottest teams in the league. ... When you beat (Wisconsin-) Parkside in this league and you play these teams as tough as they’re playing them, if you don’t have respect for them, shame on you.”
The Knights limited freshman Nate Michael and junior Michael Jackson, McKendree’s second- and third-leading scorers behind Franklin, to five points apiece. Michael, who had scored 96 points in the last four games, was 2-for-11 from the field and Jackson was 2-for-10.
“I’ve got to give all the credit to our preparation and us trying to be there on arrival,” Davenport said of guarding Michael. “You can’t guard him with one guy. It was all about team defense. That was the whole emphasis all week. That’s how we play. We can’t guard one-on-one, so that’s how we play.”
The Bearcats trailed 10-0 just over two minutes into the game, but rallied to within 30-28 on Franklin’s baseline jumper with 5:38 left in the first half. Bellarmine, however, answered with a 17-4 run in the final 5:24. Suggs’ 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Knights their 15-point lead.
I was proud of our guys and their ability to share the ball and their ability to defend together. (McKendree) is one of the hottest teams in the league. ... When you beat (Wisconsin-) Parkside in this league and you play these teams as tough as they’re playing them, if you don’t have respect for them, shame on you.
Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport
The Knights kept firing after the break, moving ahead 66-41 on back-to-back layups by sophomore Brent Bach. They took their biggest lead of the game at 91-58 when Frederick’s two straight 3-pointers was followed by another trey from sophomore Jarek Coles.
“There’s not any weak spots out there,” Statham said. “I like them a lot. You don’t compare teams and games, but they’re one of (the best), for sure. They really are. And I’m sincere when I think they could win it all. I think they could. They’ve got a good shot.”
Bellarmine 68, McKendree 58 (women)
McKendree shaved a 41-29 third-quarter deficit to 46-45 early in the fourth quarter, but the No. 25 Knights answered with a 17-2 run in a span of 3:14 to pull away.
Junior Emily Pusheck came off the bench to lead McKendree (11-15, 6-10) with 13 points and eight rebounds. Pusheck was 4-for-5 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.
Senior Kelsee Ennis and junior Amber Alexander had eight points apiece. Alexander didn’t score in the second half, playing just five minutes because of foul difficulty.
Sophomore Raven Merriweather led all scorers with 18 points for Bellarmine (19-3, 13-3). Junior Whitney Hartlage had 13 off the bench and junior Destony Curry had 12.
McKendree dominated the boards 33-23 and shot 49 percent (22-for-45), but the Bearcats were charged with 24 turnovers that led to 34 points by the Knights.
Senior Kacey Johnson played 21 minutes off the bench for the Bearcats and scored two points. Johnson had missed the two previous games because of concussion-like symptoms.