LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)Garrett Tipton had 21 points, Bash Wieland added 13 and Bellarmine survived a late Louisville rally to stun the Cardinals 67-66 on Wednesday night and spoil Kenny Payne’s debut as coach.
Facing Louisville for the first time since 2006, the Knights trailed 15-14 before scoring 11 consecutive points for the lead. They never trailed after that and led by 14 late in the half.
The Cardinals slowly fought back to within 59-55 with 6:41 remaining before Bellarmine answered with an 8-0 spurt to stretch its lead back to 12. Louisville didn’t quit and scored 11 unanswered points, including Mike James’ 3-pointer, to get within 67-66 with 1:02 left.
But Louisville missed several chances to take the lead, starting with El Ellis’ missed free throw with 43 seconds left. Bellarmine couldn’t take advantage either, but the Cardinals continued to squander opportunities in the final eight seconds as Kamari Lands and Roosevelt Wheeler each missed shots.
The horn sounded before Ellis got off a final long shot that bounced off the side of the basket.
”We were desperate and we knew we had to make a run when we were down 10,” James said. ”Give them credit. They hit some tough shots, they ran their offense based on what they know.”
Tipton, a fifth-year senior, made 9 of 16 from the field while Wieland converted 11 of 12 free throws. Ben Johnson made two 3-pointers for eight points for Bellarmine, which made 7 of 15 3s with six players hitting at least one from behind the arc.
Jae’Lyn Withers had 17 points, Ellis 16 and James 14 for Louisville, which shot 42% (22 of 52) and hit 11 of 28 from long range.
Louisville is transitioning under Payne, a member of its 1986 national championship team and former longtime assistant at rival Kentucky. He replaced Chris Mack in March after two seasons with the NBA’s New York Knicks.
Bellarmine was coming off an Atlantic Sun Conference championship last season but was ineligible for the automatic NCAA Tournament bid because of the four-year transitional period as a Division I school. The Knights lost a lot of offense from last season, but shot well above 50% for much of the game before finishing at 48%.
”It’s special for the players,” said Bellarmine coach Scottie Davenport, who went on a rant about the tournament exclusion but added that he was glad players stuck around the program. ”I stood in the back corner of the locker room and just watched them. They didn’t want to hear what I had to say.”
Bellarmine visits Morehead State on Saturday.
Louisville hosts Wright State on Saturday.
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