Second half Bruin rally falls short at Presentation

BJ Shelton led the Bruins with 21 points and seven rebounds.
BJ Shelton led the Bruins with 21 points and seven rebounds.

NSAA Standings

ABERDEEN, S.D. – BU's BJ Shelton scored a season-high 25 points and PC's Julius Jackson dropped in 29 in a match-up of two of the most explosive players in the NSAA but it was the Saints that emerged victorious as the Bellevue University men's basketball team suffered a 79-73 loss at the hands of Presentation College on Saturday afternoon at the Strobe Center in North Star Athletic Association action.

With the loss Bellevue falls to 5-6 overall and 1-1 in league play. With the win Presentation has now won two-straight to improve to 6-6 overall and 1-2 in NSAA play.

It was the BJ Shelton and Julius Jackson show in the early minutes as the duo combined to score 16 of the game's first 22 points. While those two started a combined 7-of-12 the rest of both teams combined to shoot just 3-of-16 in the game's first eight minutes. By the midway mark of the half Presentation held an 18-13 lead after Brian Stokes and Jackson exchanged three-pointers.

Presentation stretched their lead to double-figures with three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, part of a 9-3 run, going up 24-13 with 9:04 to play. Bellevue answered with a 9-0 run in just 2:19 to close within two points at 24-22. The Bruins couldn't quite equalize before the halftime break as Presentation stretched their lead to 38-30 at the intermission.

Presentation benefitted most in the opening half from holding onto the basketball. Entering the game the Saints averaged 14 turnovers per game but had just three giveaways in the first 20 minutes.

Shelton (13) and Stokes (11) provided the majority of the first half offense for BU, combining for 24 of Bellevue's 30 points in the opening 20 minutes. Jackson led all scorers at the break with 15 points for PC while Quadre Lollis chipped in seven and Marcus Gatlin added six points.

BU held a 20-14 rebounding advantage in the opening half, but that only lead to a 4-2 advantage in second-chance points. While Presentation owned a 41.7-12.5 percent edge in three-point shooting, the Bruins dominated inside to the tune of a 24-10 edge in points in the paint.

After a Bellevue charge made it a two-possession game Presentation went on a 7-0 run to grab a 13-point lead at the 14:41 mark of the game. The Bruins hung around and slowly chipped away at the Saints lead until they were within six points 59-55, on a Brandon Fagins tip-in, with 9:37 to play.

Sloppy play over the ensuing minutes broke up some of the game's rhythm but a pair of Nick Hilton free throws at the 6:46 mark made it a one-possession PC lead, 62-59, to set up an exciting finish. Back-to-back baskets from Shelton and Blake Wilder pulled BU to within two points before another Shelton basket tied the game 67-67 with 4:15 to go.

The Bruins had a chance to take their first lead since the first half but Richard Reed's free throw rimmed out and Jackson drained a three at the other end to put Presentation ahead by three at the 3:48 mark.

Gatlin hit the front half of a one-and-one, BU turned it over twice, a Jackson basket, and two Gatlin free throws put PC up 77-71 with 27 seconds left. Shelton scored at the offensive end to pull Bellevue within four but it was too little, too late and the Saints hang on for the win.

Jackson poured in a game-high 29 points. He was supported by four other Saints in double-figures; Lollis (13), Gatlin (12), Deiontay Walters (10), and Adam White (10).

Shelton scored a season-best 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Bruins. Wilder and Stokes each added 14 points in the loss.

BU dominated the glass, out-rebounding Presentation 41-19 and out-shot the Saints 50.9 percent to 45.9 percent but it was three-point shooting and turnovers that did the Bruins in. Bellevue turned it over 19 times to just eight for PC and the Saints hit eight three pointers (47.1 percent) to just two for the Bruins (12.5 percent). Presentation won the game despite being out-scored 52-18 in the paint.

Bellevue's next game will be on Saturday, Dec.16 in Madison, S.D. against Dakota State University. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.

* Note: BU's games scheduled for Tuesday, Dec.  12 and Thursday, Feb. 15 against Grace University will not be played as the Grace men's basketball team has folded. Bellevue will be credited with 2-0 forfeit wins per NAIA regulations.