The 13th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team used a 23-2 first half run to rocket by sixth-ranked Bellarmine University, 62-49, Thursday evening at the Physical Activities Center. USI rises to 15-3 overall and 8-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, while Bellarmine falls to 15-3 overall, 7-3 GLVC.
The Screaming Eagles took the early advantage after the tip-off and led by five early, 7-2, before the Knights kicked into gear with a 20-9 run and led 22-16 with 9:58 left in the first half. At this point, USI senior center Keith DeWitt (High Point, North Carolina) took over the game.
DeWitt ignited a 23-2 run with eight points, four rebounds, three blocks, and one assist over an eight minute span that saw the Eagles go from a six point deficit to a 37-24 lead. The senior center also led a USI defensive charge that held the Knights without a field goal for 8:31.
USI would go on to end the first half with a 37-26 advantage after shooting 60.9 percent from the field (14-23) and 57.1 percent from long range (4-7). DeWitt led the Eagles during the half with 14 points, seven boards, three assists, and three blocks while playing all 20 minutes.
In the second half, the Eagles extended their advantage to 16 points, 47-31, in the first five minutes before the Knight made a run. Bellarmine cut the USI led under 10 points, 47-38, but that would be as close as the Knights would get.
The USI defense took control in the final 12 minutes, holding Bellarmine to just 11 points, while the offense extended the lead to a game-high 18 points twice, 58-42 and 62-44, before settling for the 62-49 win.
DeWitt finished with a game-high 18 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks, and four assists. He was a blistering six-of-eight from the field, a perfect six-of-six from the line, and posted his third double-double of the year.
USI junior forward Orlando Rutledge (Louisville, Kentucky) and junior guard Lawrence Thomas (Springfield, Illinois) followed DeWitt in the scoring column with 14 points and 11 points, respectively. Thomas, who also had eight points during USI's first half run with a pair of free throws and a back-to-back three-point field goals, was three-of three from beyond the three-point arc in the win, while Rutledge was three-of-four from long range in the contest.
USI returns to the road Saturday when it travels to McKendree University for the first time since the 1973-74 season and for the first GLVC match-up between the two programs. McKendree is 7-13 overall and 1-9 in the GLVC after losing to 18th-ranked Kentucky Wesleyan College, 83-56, tonight in Owensboro, Kentucky.
The Eagles trail the Bearcats in the all-time series, 6-2, and are looking for their first win on McKendree's home court.
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