Hot-shooting Bellarmine downs Falcons, 85-67

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The Bellarmine men’s basketball team made 11-of-17 three-point shots to take down Bowling Green, 85-67, at the Stroh Center Friday.

Bellarmine, which was an NCAA Division II powerhouse for two decades until moving up to D-I in 2019, got their first win of the season against three losses, while the Falcons lost their second straight in falling to 2-2.

“Obviously, we are disappointed in the performance and the results here,” BGSU first-year coach Todd Simon said.

“We had a couple really good days of practice following (loss to) Oakland. It’s just one of those things where we got behind the eight-ball after they hit a couple threes early.”

Bellarmine not only shot 65% from beyond the arc, they shot 58% (28-for-48) from the field and made 18-of-23 free throws (78%). Simon said part of that was giving up too many easy shots.

“On the (defensive end) of the floor, we just lost too many one-on-one battles,” Simon said. “There was no scheme, nothing we can do if we don’t guard the ball well.

“Bellarmine is exceptional at moving and cutting and making you guard for 30 seconds. This is a great early season test to that and we didn’t pass the test.”

Compare that to the Falcons shooting 28% from downtown (9-for-32), 38% (23-for-61) from the field, and a dismal 50% (12-for-24) from the line, and you have a recipe for disaster.

According to Simon and senior guard DaJion Humphrey, this is a team that can knock down shots, so figuring out why they didn’t drop Friday is a mystery.

“I don’t feel like anything needs to change,” Humphrey said. “We all put the work in. Like they say, you always have to trust your (teammates), therefore we are not losing faith or anything like that. They are not losing faith in me, so I keep going.

“It’s like a trust mentality. We trust that it will work. It might not fall in today, but it’s going to fall in another day. You can never give up on your confidence.”

Simon added, ““There were some mistakes, but we have to be able to shoot the ball. That is the bottom line is that we haven’t shot it well. In practice, we chart everything, we shoot well and it goes in. Especially the free throw thing, it’s kind of gotten in the head a little bit maybe.

“So, it’s got to start there because we’re getting too many open looks to have to get back on our heels defensively off all of these long rebounds.”

Simon said he has to figure out how to take his players’ ability to shoot well in practice and translate that into game action.

“Yeah, there is a little bit to that. It is almost a head scratcher,” Simon said. “You go in and you have had some great days.”

Plus, BGSU had a visible size advantage over the Knights, but that did not seem to pay off either.

“We have to fix everything,” Simon said. “You know, we have some really good bigs but if they are getting double-teamed, you’ve got to make the right play, and that kick-out shot has to fall.”

“Otherwise that floor has just shrunk, and Bellarmine was physical on the floor and we didn’t make them pay for that and if we don’t, you are not going to put up enough points on the board.

“So they really packed it in, made it tough on the bigs, and we have to find a way to make them pay for that.”

BGSU’s shooting was so bad that the Falcons missed their first 11 shots from beyond the arc. BGSU 6-foot-8 freshman guard Ejay Greer finally hit the Falcons’ first trey with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, bringing the Falcons to within seven, 28-21.

Trailing 29-21 at halftime, BGSU tried to speed the game up in the second half, adding some full court pressure in the stretch run, but a disciplined Bellarmine team kept pace, outscoring the Falcons, 56-46, over the final 20 minutes.

It seemed every time the Falcons would make a small run, the Knights would come down and get someone open to knock down another three.

“Credit to them. They are a really good team,” Humphrey said. “Tonight was their night. The ball was falling for them. It wasn’t for us.

“We just have to get back to the drawing board and figure it out from there. We have a long season ahead and we’ll be fine,” Humphrey continued.

For Bellarmine, sophomore guard Ben Johnson was 4-for-5 from downtown in scoring 20 points and sophomore guard Billy Smith was 2-for-3 from the arc, scoring 16 points.

Bellarmine graduate-student guard Alec Pfriem was 3-for-4 from the arc, scoring 13 points, and sophomore guard Peter Studer hit the only trey he attempted, scoring 12 points.

BGSU sophomore guard Anthony McComb III was a bright spot for the Falcons, making 5-of-10 shots from the field and scoring 15 points.

“I was very comfortable staying ready. My teammates trusted me, coach trusted me to put in the game and give me the time,” McComb said.

Humphrey scored 12, senior forward Rashaun Agee had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals, and senior center Jason Spurgin had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists, plus the 7-foot tall Spurgin was 2-for-4 from downtown.

Greer scored eight points, junior guard Marcus Hill had four points and two assists, junior guard D.J. Smith had three points and two assists, senior forward Sam Towns had two points and five rebounds, and senior guard Da’Shawn Phillip added two points for the Falcons.

The smaller Bellarmine squad had a 35-31 advantage off the glass and the Knights had 12 turnovers to the Falcons’ eight.

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