No. 4 Bellarmine Ends Truman's Season in NCAA Tournament
BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - Appearing in its second consecutive NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, the Truman State University men's basketball team faced No. 4 Bellarmine in the quarterfinal round of the Midwest Regional. Despite a two-point halftime lead of 37-35, the Bulldogs were held to just 28 second-half points while the Knights scored 47 en route to an 82-65 defeat inside Ferris State's Jim Wink Arena.
Seventh-seeded Truman (20-11) lost just three of its final 11 games of the season, all of which were against Bellarmine (29-2) in a span of three weeks. The second-seeded Knights will now move on to play third-seeded Findlay on Sunday in the field of 32. The No. 13 Oilers defeated the six seed and GLVC foe, Drury, 84-65, in Saturday's first quarterfinal matchup.
Turner Scott (pictured) led the way for Truman with 13 points, 10 of which were in the first half, to go with two rebounds, one assist and a steal. Those 13 points mark the third time Scott has registered the team high in scoring, but the first time no other Bulldog scored as many. Brodric Thomas and Jake Velky were the other Purple and White scorers in double-figures with 12 points apiece. Thomas was held to just two points in the second half because of foul trouble and fouled out of a game for the fourth time this season, two of which were against Bellarmine.
Zach Fischer (10 boards) was one point shy of his 19th career double-double and 18th of the season as he finished this season with averages of 17 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. In the program's single season record book, Fischer's 2017-18 campaign is FIRST in field goal percentage (62.4), tied for sixth in total points (528) and eighth in total rebounds (301).
Thomas paced Truman in assists (3) and steals (2) while Fischer and Connor Lusso each had a block. Fischer and Lusso played their final game in the Purple and White after careers that included 86 games and 53 games played, respectively.
Truman couldn't have asked for a better start as it scored 11 of the game's first 13 points through the first four minutes and change. Bellarmine answered with a 9-3 run of its own that cut the deficit to three, 14-11, with 12:15 to play until halftime. After a thunderous tomahawk dunk by Thomas, a three-pointer from Jacob Socha and a Nathan Messer jumper, the Bulldogs' lead was back to 10, 21-11, at the 10:52 mark. From there until there were just under four minutes to play in the half, the Knights outscored Truman by 10, 17-7, and had tied it up at 28-28. Following three more deadlocks at 30-30, 32-32 and 35-35, Messer sank another jumper to give the Bulldogs' that halftime advantage.
Out of the break, Bellarmine's Alex Cook slimmed the margin to one with a free throw before Velky and Fischer teamed up to give Truman a five-point lead, 41-36. The Knights proceeded to rattle off 10-straight points to go up by five, 46-41, and never relinquished that lead. Bellarmine went on to lead by as many as 19 on two occasions, 75-56 and 82-63, before the final margin of 17.
Among the many things this team was able to accomplish are the following:
Fifth-straight 20-win season (had never been done more than two-straight years)
13 conference wins (tied with 2013-14 for most in school history)
Three first-team all-conference honorees (first time in 62 years and just third instance in school history)
Two seed in GLVC Tournament (highest conference tournament seed in school history)
Appearance in GLVC Tournament finals (first time in school history and just third conference tournament finals appearance)
Back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances (first time in school history)
First-ever wins over Lewis and Indianapolis (0-9 prior to this season)
Expectations for 2018-19 will be high as this program returns 16 players from an 18-man roster.
Courtesy of Truman State Athletics