Although the game will not even show up at the end of the season when one looks at wins and losses, St. Catharine’s 79-74 victory over Bellarmine last Wednesday will reverberate for quite some time for the Patriots’ program.
While it was a regular season game for Scotty Davenport’s Knights (8-1), ranked number one in NCAA D-II, it is an exhibition game on the schedule for J.T. Burton’s team. But that didn’t take away from the luster of the huge win. “Just to win against such a good and storied program is big, but the fact that they were undefeated and the top team in the nation makes it a really big win for our program,” said Burton. “It ranks up there with the win we had last year against Georgetown.”
The game, played at Evansville in the Bill Joergen Memorial Tournament, saw the Knights lead by as many as 17 points in the first half before settling for a 41-28 lead at the intermission. But The Patriots, 9-2, caught fire in the second half with 61.3 percent shooting from the field while holding the Knights to 40 percent in the final 20 minutes. St. Catharine shot 46.8 from the field but was just 3-16 from three point range. The Knights were 7-21 from behind the arc and they shot 47.2 percent overall. The Patriots were 18-26 from the free throw line while Bellarmine was 17-28.
St. Catharine took its first lead since early in the game at 64-63 with 7:03 to play. Kashiff Carr gave the Patriots the lead for good with a free throw with 5:11 to play. The final five point margin was the Patriots’ largest of the game. The Patriots leading scorer, Ervin Williams who had 21 points and nine rebounds, took an unusual route to the game as he was stranded in airports on his return trip from his home in New Jersey. The 6-9 senior center arrived at the hotel just as the Patriot team was leaving for the game. Carr and Antoine Watson joined Williams in double figures with 19 and 13 respectively. Watson also pulled down six rebounds.
The Patriots finished their two game exhibition trip to Evansville Thursday against the host University of Southern Indiana Eagles. And again Burton’s bunch proved they can play well with the big guys. But in the end the Patriots fell to USI (9-1) as the Eagles’ Brandon Hogg sank two free throws with 11 seconds to play to give the home team a 65-64 win.
“These games will definitely give our players some confidence for the second half of the (in the USI game) we had trouble getting in nay rhythm offensively.” The Patriots were whistled for 29 fouls while the eagles were called for 15. USi was 21-34 at the charity stripe while St. Catharine was 12-18. Xavier Keeling had 21 points to lead the Patriots. Antoine Watson had 11 points and Ervin Williams had 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Patriots are back home this week for two conference games. Thursday they take on University of Virginia-Wise at 8:00 and Saturday they play Pikeville at 2:00. Both games are part of a women’s/men’s doubleheader.