EDWARDSVILLE, IL (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball saw its second half rally fall short versus 13th-ranked Bellarmine University, 67-61, in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament Saturday afternoon at Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Illinois.
The Screaming Eagles, the third seed, falls to 22-8, while the Knights, the second seed, advances with a 25-4 mark. With the loss, USI will have to wait until Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. (CDT) to hear whether it will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional. The NCAA II Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Show will be broadcast live on NCAA.com. The Eagles fell behind in the opening half, spotting the Knights the first nine points and trailed by 15 points, 21-6, after a 12-0 run by Bellarmine.
USI responded with an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 25-17, when junior guard/forward Kobe Caldwell (Bowling Green, Kentucky) and senior guard/forward Nate Hansen (Evansville, Indiana) hit back-to-back layups with 7:25 until halftime. Bellarmine regained control for the rest of the first half and took a 39-25 lead in to the intermission. USI trailed by nearly 10 points for the first eight minutes of the second half until the Eagles exploded on a 13-0 run to pull to within one, 52-51, with 8:04 left on a three-point bomb by Caldwell.
The Eagles were four-of-seven during the run with Caldwell, senior forward Jacob Norman (Evansville, Indiana), and senior guard Alex Stein (Evansville, Indiana) all contributing four points each. After the Knights re-extended the lead to five points, 56-51, the Eagles rallied again to close the gap to one, 56-55, with 5:24 to play on a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Emmanuel Little (Evansville, Indiana).
The one-point deficit, however, would be as close as the Eagles would come the rest of the game. Bellarmine pushed the margin back to eight points, 63-55, before USI came knocking on the door again, but this time the ball would not fall in the basket for the Eagles. USI was just one-of-seven during the final three minutes. Individually for the Eagles, Caldwell and Stein led USI with 16 points each, while sophomore guard Mateo Rivera (Indianapolis, Indiana) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points. Caldwell scored 11 of his 16 in the second half to lead the comeback try.