Bearcats Complete Perfect Preseason With Win Over Bellarmine|
Nov. 3, 2007
CINCINNATI---Cincinnati shrugged off a slow start to its exhibition finale, rallying from an early deficit to knock off Bellarmine by a 77-58 score on Saturday night at Fifth Third Arena. The triumph gives the Bearcats a 2-0 record in the preseason in anticipation of the team's season-opener next Friday against Belmont.
The Bearcats used a diverse offensive attack that saw nine players contribute at least four points. For the second straight game, sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn led the way, scoring a game-high 16 points, including 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Vaughn's effort at the line was part of an outstanding performance from the charity stripe for UC, which knocked down 22-of-26.
Bellarmine presented a different challenge for the Bearcats then Northern Kentucky, UC's exhibition opponent on Wednesday. After holding a commanding rebounding edge against the Norse, UC was just one better on the boards than the taller Knights (34 to 33) on Saturday. The Bearcats were able to roll out full-court pressure defense against Bellarmine, resulting in 24 turnovers by the Knights. UC swiped 13 steals, including three by Vaughn.
Dzaflo Larkai, at 6-8, enjoyed a solid performance on the inside, leading Bellarmine with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. Larkai was the only BU player to reach double figures in points.
For the second straight game, the Bearcats started slow as Bellarmine converted three of its first four field goal attempts to grab an early 6-1 lead. UC wouldn't trail for long as a three-pointer by Marvin Gentry and a lay-up by John Williamson sparked a go-ahead 8-0 run that gave the Bearcats their first lead.
Bellarmine promptly answered the Bearcats' run with one of its own, scoring nine of the next 11. Larkai was right at the center, scoring five during the spurt.
After coming back to tie the score for the sixth time in the half at 21-all, the Bearcats exploded, going on a first half-ending 16-6 run to take a 37-27 lead into the locker room. Balance was the order of the run, as four different UC players contributed points, including seven by Vaughn and five by Hrycaniuk.
The Bearcats continued to pour on the pressure at the beginning of the second half, going up by 20 when Mitchell tipped in a Jamual Warren miss with 14:34 to play. UC's lead reached its highest point of the night five minutes later when a lay-up by Rashad Bishop increased the advantage to 24. From there, Bellarmine trimmed the UC lead to as little as 17 two different times, the second coming when Larkai dropped in a lay up with 4:49 to go.
In the last stages of the half, Cincinnati's lead continued to hover around 20, reaching 21 three times, the last when Warren dropped in a three to make it 77-56.
With the preseason behind them, the Bearcats will now officially open the 2007-08 season next weekend, hosting the Peggy Cronin Classic in Fifth Third Arena. The three-day, four-team tournament kicks off on Friday with Bowling Green taking on Western Carolina and the Bearcats battling Belmont.