Bellarmine, Indianapolis, Drury, and UW-Parkside all won Thursday to advance to the GLVC Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinals on Saturday. Fans at the Family Arena were treated to four competitive games, all of which finished with a margin of victory of 10 points or less. While all four higher-seeded (or lower depending on your interpretation of the age-old argument of No. 1 seed being the highest or lowest seed) ultimately advanced, they were all tested. Bellarmine trailed at halftime. Drury did not have their first lead until overtime. Parkside relinquished a double-digit, second-half lead and survived a near buzzer beater. Somewhat surprisingly, Indianapolis had the easiest go of it in the 4-vs.-5 contest.
The men’s tournament is on a one-day hiatus, as the women’s GLVC teams take to the floor Friday for their quarterfinals matchups. Saturday, the semifinals begin with Bellarmine taking on Indianapolis at 12 p.m. Drury will play Parkside in the second game of the afternoon session at approximately 2:30 p.m.
#1 Bellarmine 83, #8 Maryville 73
Bellarmine won their 14th straight game to begin Thursday’s basketball marathon. Bellarmine trailed 40-33 at halftime but dominated the second half, Maryville’s hot shooting cooled and the one seed survived.
The blueprint for big upsets in March Madness is more often than not shoot the lights out and hope the other team goes cold. Maryville was on the path in the first half by shooting 49 percent, including 7-14 from 3-point range. However, in the second half Maryville made only three 3-pointers and Bellarmine shot 59% from the floor. The Knights took the lead at the 16:35 mark of the second half and never gave it back.
The No. 2 ranked team in the country had four of five starters finish in double figures. Bellarmine was led by Chris Whitehead’s 25 points. Whitehead also racked up six steals. GLVC Player of the year Jake Thelen posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Rusty Troutman and Josh Derksen both had 16 points and 4 rebounds.
Maryville was led by Armon Provo, who scored 27 points and went 6-of-10 from 3-point range. Trae Pemberton (15) and Damyan Stoyanov (11) also finished in double figures for the Saints.
#4 Indianapolis 70, #5 Lewis 61
Indianapolis had the easiest day, taking the lead with 7:46 to go in the first half and never giving it up again. UIndy’s lead hovered around 10 for most of the second half, ballooning to as high as 14. Greyhounds guard Jordan Lloyd scored a career-high (and tournament-high to this point) 32 points.
It was a tale of two halves, as far as scoring is concerned. The first half saw just 48 points total. UIndy shot 36 percent from the field and their counterparts shot just 29 percent. In the second half, the pair combined for 83 points and shot 52 percent and 50 percent from the field.
First-Team All-Conference selection Joe Lawson was the only other player in double figures for the Greyhounds with 18 points.
Lewis’ two Second-Team All-Conference selections, Max Straus and Ryan Jackson, finished with 18 points and 15 points respectively. Senior guard Gabe Williams came off the bench to score 11 points for the Flyers.
#2 Drury 70, #7 Missouri- St. Louis 65 (OT)
The largest crowd on Thursday was always going to be for this one with UMSL just a few miles down the road and a 6 p.m. start time. Fans were rewarded with the best game of the day. UMSL never trailed in regulation, but Drury played its best basketball down the stretch and snatched away the Tritons’ upset win.
Drury’s Ben Fisher shot a 3-pointer down 60-57 with 50 seconds left that hit high off the rim but dropped to tie the game for only the second time and the first since it was 20-20. UMSL had to take two timeouts to get the set they wanted for they attempt to go-ahead again, but still could not score. Drury got two shots to win it themselves, but missed as well.
Drury scored the first four points of overtime and then iced it away with free throws to advance.
The Panthers were led by junior guard Kameron Bundy’s 20 points. Fisher scored 15 points while going 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Mike Nwelue also made it in to double digits with 13 points and Cameron Adams grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. The Panthers won despite being outshot 46 percent to 37 percent in part because they had a 20-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
UMSL was led on the stat sheet by their First-Team All-Conference selection Aareon Smith and their Second-Team selection Taylor Wimbish, who scored 21 and 14, respectively.
#3 UW-Parkside 73, #6 Truman State 70
The final game of the GLVC conference tourney weekend opening day looked like it was going to end a bit anticlimatically. Parkside jumped out to an early double-digit lead and Truman State started ice cold from the field. It took the Bulldogs 14 minutes to make it to double figures. Truman shot just 25 percent in the first half. In the second half, the Rangers expanded their lead to as much as 16. But the Bulldogs would make a run.
Truman went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 5 with 12:09 left. The lead never again got any higher than 8 points, but Parkside never relinquished the lead.
With 11 seconds left, Truman’s Reed Mells made a layup to cut the lead to 71-70. Rangers guard Jimmy Gavin made two clutch free throws to give the Bulldogs the ball with 10 seconds left down 73-70. Truman executed a near perfect set to get Cole Myers an open look in the corner, but it rimmed out and time expired.
Gavin scored a game-high 28 points and was joined in double figures by Andy Mazurczack (12) and Zygimantas Riauka (10). Riauka also grabbed 15 rebounds — the most of any player on Thursday — for a double-double.
Truman State’s Seth Jackson scored 22 points and fellow starter Myers scored 10. Issac Gardner scored 17 points as a reserve.
(Photo Credit: Top-Tim Kaiser; Embedded in Copy- Mick Lite)