March 24th, 2011
Bellarmine At Final Four: Complete Blog
Knights defeat Minnesota State 81-74 in national semifinal
LouisvilleCatholicSports.com is live and in person at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. for the 2011 NCAA D-II Men's Basketball Elite Eight, with coverage brought to you by the Garrett-Stotz Company. The Bellarmine University Knights (31-2) will take on Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks (28-4) beginning at 6pm EST today. Re-visit and refresh this page frequently for live, in-game updates during the contest
Just got out of Bellarmine's postgame press conference. You've got to love the varying personalities of Coach, Hobbs, and Dowe. Good stuff. Working on photos, recaps, and more. Visit the LouisvilleCatholicSports.com website and Facebook fan page for content very soon.
Bellarmine will play for a national championship, as the Knights knock off Minnesota State 81-74 in the NCAA D-II national semifinals. What a game!
MSU hits two free throws, but trail Bellarmine 79-72 with 18.4 seconds to go.
Dowe knocks down another FT and BU leads 77-68 with 34.1 seconds go. The Bellarmine faithful are starting to feel it, but this game is far from over.
Bellarmine is in pristine position. After a Benedetti layup and an offensive charge on MSU on the other end, the Mavs were called for an intentional foul during Dowe's layup attempt. He knocks down both and BU has the ball up 76-68 with 44.7 seconds to go.
On a Benedetti foul, the Knights had two looks and two chances to increase its lead to seven points, but can't get the short-range shots to go. The Knights commit a blocking foul and MSU knocks 1-of-2 bonus free throws. Bellarmine leads 72-68 with 1:36 to go.
A leaning jumper by Hobbs just gave BU its largest lead of the game - 4 points - and has the Knights ahead 71-67 w/ 2:38 to go. Knights have the ball following a MSU turnover, and Dowe will now shoot bonus free throws with a chance to increase his team's lead.
This is going to be a tense three minutes and 26 seconds. Both of these teams want it SO bad and both shoot the ball SO well. A last-second buzzer beater for either team is not out of the question. BU leads 69-67 with 3:26 to go.
These rims love good shooters. Hobbs' three-point attempt bounced high off the rim, kissed off the backboard, and rolled in, giving BU a 69-66 lead with 3:34 to go.
Kendle got up slowly following the last loose ball and seems to be favoring his right knee - one that is already wearing a brace. Let's keep our eye on that, as he's been big for the Knights in the past 15 minutes.
Kendle's 3-pointer gives BU a 66-64 lead with 5:44 to go. He does NOT want to lose and he has been clutch in the second half.
MSU appeared to commit a 35-second shot clock violation as the ball was deflected away from Marcus Hill. The buzzer went off in the arena but the first official to react initially signaled to have one second added to the shot clock. They just went to the monitor to review and ruled that it WAS a violation. Knights take over down 64-63 and 6:09 to go.
With 6:54 to go in the game, Bellarmine will shoot the bonus the rest of the way. BU trails 64-63.
Nick Holmes just got up slowly after getting pushed during an offensive rebound attempt on his own missed shot. He comes out of the game but appears to be OK.
A BIG play for the Knights, as Benedetti draws contact and gets his layup attempt to bounce in off the front of the iron. It was an "on the fence" call between a block and a charge and the referee didn't really signal until after the ball fell through the hoop. If Benedetti can step up and finish the old-fasioned 3PP out of the timeout, the Knights will take a 63-62 lead with 7:47 to go. The two teams have combined for 18 3-pointers thus far.
Following a Hobbs 3-pointer and an offensive rebound attempt that spun out of bounds for MSU, the Knights will have the ball and a chance to tie or reclaim the lead with 8:03 to go. Minnesota St. leads Bellarmine 62-60.
Hodges just hit his 5th 3-pointer and is 5-for-5 from long range in the game. That bucket gives MSU a 62-57 lead with 9:16 to go.
There may not be a more charismatic or energetic "sixth man" in college basketball than Chris Dowe. His 3-pointer gives Bellarmine a 57-56 lead, but the Mavs answer yet again with a bucket and drawn foul. MSU will have a chance to complete the three-point play after the timeout. If they do, they will have a 59-57 lead with 10:47 remaining.
Senior Jeremy Kendle, who didn't make a peep in the first half, seems to be playing with an elevated sense of assertiveness. His looks at the basket and aggressive drives to the hoop have started making the Mavs' defense commit more. His two free throws with 12:39 to go bring the Knights within 54-52 of Minnesota State.
THere may not be a more charismatic or energetic "sixth man" in the entire country than Chris Dowe. His 3-pointer got BU with 51-50 of MSU, but his work was quickly countered by the Mavs' FOURTH 3-pointer of the second half. 54-50 MSU with 13:00 to go in the game.
Minnesota State has started the second half 3-of-3 from long range, allowing the Mavericks to take a 51-47 lead with 15:03 to go in the game. On BU's most recent possession, Dowe had a good look at the basket with a drive along the baseline, but his attempt bounced off the side of the rim and he picked up a semi-frustration foul going after the loose ball. Timeout on the floor in Springfield.
It's like a heavyweight fight with both teams trading vicious blows, but there are MANY rounds left in this one. After an 8-2 run by MSU to start the second half, a nicely-touched 3-pointer by Kendle rolls in and brings Bellarmine within 46-43 of the Mavs. Coach Davenport immediately took a timeout to gather his troops and MSU will inbound the ball.
The second half is seconds away from getting underway and the Knights will have possession of the ball to start things off.
HALFTIME STATISTICS: Bellarmine University - leading scorers were Sprague (13), Benedetti (11), and Dowe (9). The Knights were 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from the field, 6-of-11 (54.5) percent from the "3," and 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the free throw line.
Minnesota State - leading scorers were Hodges (14), Mason (11), and Hill (7). The Mavericks were 14-of-28 (50 percent) from the field, 3-of-10 (30 percent) from the "3," and 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) from the free throw line.
The Mavs are WHOOPING BU on the boards, as MSU outrebounded the Knights 18-9, including a 7-1 offensive rebound margin, which again is just like the Knights' first half during yesterday's national quarterfinal against Midwestern State. That will have to change.
In other notable stats, the two teams combined for a mere seven turnovers (BU: 3; MSU: 4) and the Knights had eight assists on 13 converted FG.
Luke Sprague was 100 percent when shooting the basketball in the first half. He was 4-of-4 from the field, 3-of-3 from long range, and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Clearly, he needs to touch the ball even more in the second half.
MSU held for the final shot of the half, got off a decent look and a desperation putback, but neither fell and we're tied at the break, 38-38. Halftime stats to follow.
Benedetti, who had missed his last couple FT attempts, knocks down two to tie the game at 38-38 with 37.4 seconds to go before halftime.
After a Stephen Kirschbaum 3-pointer for MSU, Benedetti gets a layup and draws the foul, but his missed free throw keeps MSU ahead 32-31 with 2:35 to go in the half.
It's back and forth and then some here at MMC. Cameron Hodges, who is MSU's leading scorer to this point, just put the Mavericks up 30-29. Bellarmine did draw Minnesota State's 7th team foul on its ensuing possession, meaning the Benedetti will shoot one and the bonus out of the current timeout. There is currently 3:32 remaining until the half.
Similar to the regional championship game in Louisville, Chris Dowe just delivered a thunderous two-handed dunk through the lane, causing the crowd to erupt and giving the Knights a 26-24 lead. WOW!
After tying the game at 24-24, Bellarmine pushes Minnesota State deep into the shot clock, forcing them to take a less than desirable shot. But the Mavericks grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a Dowe foul on the floor. There is 7:31 to go in the first half.
After Benedetti's three-point attempt rimmed out, Mason converts a layup and draws a foul on the other end. He makes it, and his old-fashioned three-point play gives MSU a 19-18 lead w/ 10:08 to go in the first half.
The pace is fast on both ends with lots of shots going up. Dowe and Sprague both have five points, giving BU an 18-15 lead at the first half's 11:38 mark. MSU will have a pair of free throw attempts out of the current timeout.
A Braydon Hobbs bomb - the Knights' fourth of the game - gives Bellarmine a 16-13 lead w/ 12:55 to go in the half.
BU sophomore Chris Dowe, who was inserted less than two minutes into the game, is playing with a LOT of energy on the floor for the Knights. His 3-pointer just got the Knights within 13-11 at the 14:48. We're at our first media timeout of the game.
This game already has an eeriely similar feel from Bellarmine's game yesterday, as the Mavericks are shooting and converting at a furious rate. Bellarmine has hit a pair of treys though, and trails 11-8 with 16:00 to go in the first half.
Marcus Hill buries a 3-pointer from the top of the key during MSU's opening possession and nods his head with confidence, but Luke Sprague nails one of his own on BU's end, tying the game at 3-3. 19:10 to go in the first half.
Slight scoreboard malfunction to start the game. The individual points and fouls will not be tabulated on the board for the time being. That announcement can't/won't quiet the Bellarmine cheering section.
Bellarmine trots out the exact same starting lineup that it's used in every game this season: Jeremy Kendle, Braydon Hobbs, Nick Holmes, Luke Sprague, and Justin Benedetti.
Starting lineups are being introduced. Here we go, folks.
"Shipping Up to Boston" by Dropkick Murphys is blaring in the MMC and this place is ready for some basketball. What should you expect from the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks? They are senior laden and have a deadly combination in Marcus Hill and Jefferson Mason. During MSU's national quarterfinal win on Wednesday, Hill/Mason combined for 47 points and 13 rebounds on 15-of-27 shooting from the field. Mason is probably the Mavs' best player and can shoot the ball extremely well. As a team, Minnesota State shot 12-of-29 (41 percent) from the three-point line yesterday. Bellarmine will need to play some of its usual long, smothering defense on the perimeter.
About Minnesota State University: Minnesota State University (MSU) is a public four-year university located in Mankato, Minnesota, a community of 50,000 located 75 miles (121 km) southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul. As of Fall 2009, the student body is the third-largest in the state of Minnesota with over 15,000 students, with the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus ranking first. There are two satellite campuses, one in the Twin Cities suburb of Edina and the other in Owatonna. Students are served by 600 full-time faculty members creating a 28:1 student to faculty ratio. The school was founded in 1867 with only 27 total students enrolled and is now part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU). The current President is Dr. Richard Davenport, who began his term in 2002. The athletic teams are known as the Minnesota State University Mavericks with school colors of purple and gold. Teams primarily compete at the NCAA Division II level in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
The gates must have just opened, because a pack of Bellarmine students just came rushing down to their designated section, jockeying for the "best seats." If a city and an arena that is 901 miles away can be taken over by Knight faithful, I'm scared to see what happens if (when?) BU is playing in the Elite Eight next year in the confines of NKU's Bank of Kentucky Center, which is a mere 101 miles away.
T-minus one hour until tip off. If you're reading this and have a prediction on tonight's game, email it to at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll give you a shout out on this blog.
Just had a quick exchange with Bellarmine Head Coach Scott Davenport. He seems to be in good spirits and calm. And if he's not, he's hiding it extremely well. Also just heard an interesting fact from the Bellarmine Radio team: "this will be Bellarmine's first game ever played on a Thursday." Not sure what that will mean (if anything), but quirky facts are quirky facts.
There is now less than TWO hours until gametime, and it's the calm before the storm at the MassMutual Center. To get an idea of what the inside of the arena (where Bellarmine is playing) looks like, check out our Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/louisvillecatholicsports.
And if you are in Louisville, and looking for a spot to watch the game, there are several gatherings and "watch parties" being held tonight, including one at Sports & Social Club at 4th Street Live!. That one is sponsored by the folks at the Louisville Sports Commission.
In less than five hours, Bellarmine University and Minnesota State-Mankato will square off in the NCAA Division II Final Four, with a spot in the men's basketball national championship on the line.
Bellarmine defeated Midwestern State 70-64 on Wednesday to advance to today's game, while MSM downed Alabama-Huntsville 95-91 in overtime to reach this national semifinal game.
Stay tuned all afternoon for pre-game, in-game, and postgame updates from the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. And thanks once again to our friends at Garrett-Stotz Company for sponsoring our coverage of Elite Eight basketball.