By: Jason Krell
The Knights of Bellarmine wanted nothing more than to spoil the first game of the Kenny Payne era and walk out of the Yum! Center with a win- and they did just that.
Bellarmine took full advantage of the Card’s slow start, outscoring them 41-30 in the first half. Defensive breakdowns allowed the Knights to lead by as much as twelve in the first half and completely dominated in the paint despite Louisville’s size advantage. The Knights shot an impressive 59% from the field to the Cards’ 38% heading into the break- one can only imagine what Payne had to say to his team.
The pressure was on now to see if Louisville could wake up in the second half and avoid one of the worst opening losses in recent memory. The Cards’ comeback quest was fueled by trio Jae’Lyn Withers, El Ellis, and Mike James who all scored in double figures, but were matched by Bellarmine’s Garret Tipton and Bash Wieland, putting up 21 and 13 respectively.
Trimming down the lead late in the second half, Louisville was within one with a chance to send the Knights packing. Freshman Kamari Lands missed a potential game-winning jump shot that would have given the Cards the edge. Bellarmine escaped a second-half collapse and walked off the court feeling more confident than ever that they belonged with the big boys.
All is not lost for the Cardinals as they will get a second chance on Saturday, November 12th where they will take on Wright State. No game from this point forward will be a walk in Cherokee Park, but the Cards can take away the positives from this contest and move on.
A head coach in his first season with a new roster is bound to have some early season hiccups. Let us not press the panic button…yet.
File Photo // USA TODAY //