That’s the final from Knights’ Hall. And it’s impressive. No. 5 Bellarmine’s men’s basketball team didn’t just look good tonight in beating No. 8 USI. It looked fantastic. It was up 20 with five minutes to play and coasted home.
Now, if you don’t follow Division II, the significance of this win might be lost. So let’s break it down.
D-2 is split into eight regions. And each of those regions feeds into the NCAA Elite Eight. Teams don’t move between regions. If three of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation are in, say, the Great Lakes Region (and they usually are), still only one can come out for the Elite Eight.
And the one with the best chance to do that is the one who plays the regional on its own campus.
By beating USI tonight (and Bellarmine doesn’t have to make a return trip to Evansville), the Knights put an important line on their NCAA regional resume.
We’ll have to see if they can keep it going.
Tonight was a much sharper Bellarmine team than I saw put away Kentucky Wesleyan. After a scoreless first half, freshman Braydon Hobbs from New Albany scored 13 in the second to lead the Knights, who shot 55.8 percent from the field and outrebounded USI 33-23.
USI shot 50 percent of the game and 61.9 percent in the second half, but still couldn’t cut into Bellarmine’s margin. Justin Benedetti led Bellarmine with 17 points, while Nick Holmes had 14 and Kevin Allen had 11.
And how’s this for depth? Against a deep USI team, Bellarmine’s bench outscored the Screaming Eagles’ 44-28.
More in a bit after some post-game discussions.