LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Forget New Year’s Eve. The real celebration of the Bellarmine University men’s basketball team was on New Years Day at Freedom Hall.
Bellarmine opened 2021 with a dazzling performance against Transylvania on Friday, winning their first game in their new home as a Division I team as the Knights shot a sizzle 65.5% in a 90-40 loss to the pionneers.
“From a Division I perspective, they will always be the team that won the first game in this beautiful Freedom Hall building,” said the Knights coach. Scott Davenport noted. “These guys are enjoying every moment.”
There were a lot of moments to enjoy on Friday night.
Bellarmine (2-3) flirted with the program’s record for field goal percentage with that mark of 65.5% against Transylvania (0-5), a Division III team that only faced Division I teams this season. The Knights shot 72.5% in a 92-80 win over Southern Indiana on Dec. 1, 2018. Bellarmine shot 69% in the first half and 61.5% in the second stanza against the Pioneers.
The performance was complete all around. Bellarmine had 22 assists from 36 field goals, beat Transylvania 52-6 in paint, racked up 14 interceptions to build a 26-4 points advantage on turnovers, overtook the Pioneers 45-15 and kept them at 30 percent of shots.
“We played like we trained. It’s very encouraging,” said Davenport. “It was a complete game. They feel the reward for the hard work. And even so, they weren’t satisfied.”
All 14 available players watched the action for Bellarmine, including the sophomore redshirt center Baylor younker, who made his debut in the season and recorded five points and five rebounds in 10 minutes. Neither Knights played longer than 23 minutes and 11 spent at least 10 minutes in a game where they were leading 49-20 at halftime.
“It was like a relay race – they passed the baton and it was like ‘let’s go’,” Davenport said.
“It was like a cheering rally there,” he added of the constant cheering from the Knights teammates. “It was amazing.”
Particularly amazing were the junior guard Pedro Bradshaw and senior guard JC Fleming. Bradshaw had 8 of 9 shots with 20 points, a game-high, with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Fleming broke through all five of his shots, including a 3-point trio, scoring 15 points with three assists.
Notable contributions came from several other sources. Senior winger Ethan Claycomb grabbed nine rebounds, a game-high, and had four assists, junior guard Dylan penn hit all four shots and tallied four assists, junior guard Juston betz had three assists and three steals, second-year guard Alec pfriem drained his three shots and the second forward Nick thelen keeps 4 out of 5 shots and has made two interceptions. Redshirt Rookie Guard Drew comer and forward freshman Eli roberts both recorded their first collegiate points.
Mimicking its ASUN schedule in which league games are played on consecutive days, Bellarmine will host Mount St. Joseph at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday at Freedom Hall.
“We’re using this weekend as the exact way we’ll play in our conference for the next eight weeks,” Davenport said.
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