Mitty topped Bellarmine, 73-67, in double overtime to tip off the second half of West Catholic Athletic League play.
Although the game was a nail-biter, it was not quite a 'thriller' as free throws and physical play were the themes of the contest. Mitty previously defeated Bellarmine 65-63 this year and Wednesday's matchup was once again tight throughout.
Bellarmine guard Grant Vermeer, who finished with 15 points, knocked down a halfcourt shot at the third quarter buzzer to cut Mitty's deficit to 41-40. The Bells took a 42-41 lead on the first possession of the fourth quarter and remained in control until the Monarchs regained the lead on a layup by Brandon Farrell after an offensive rebound. The Monarchs took the 52-51 advantage with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter.
Neither team scored again until a layup by Blair Mendy, who had a team-high 17 points, gave the Bells a 53-52 lead with only 25 seconds left. Mitty was unable to score on the following possession and was forced to foul. Bellarmine split their free throws as Aaron Gordon grabbed the second miss. Gordon took it down to the other end and finished with a tough, contested lay-up to send the game into overtime.
The first overtime session was sloppy, as both teams struggled at the free throw line. This time, Bellarmine had a chance to win it, but a deep three by Vermeer did not fall as time expired. Tied at 61, the game entered yet another overtime period.
Mitty was in control for the second overtime due to some clutch free throw shooting by junior Connor Peterson. Late in the session, the Monarchs led by two with the ball. A clever inbounds play led to an easy bucket by Gordon plus a foul. This put the game out of reach and the Monarchs escaped with a tough victory.
Gordon once again led the way with 33 points and 23 rebounds; however, he continues to struggle at the free throw line as he finished 7-of-26 from the stripe. Bellarmine consistently triple teammed the senior and was not afraid to hack Gordon to make him shoot free throws. Despite the poor free throw shooting, Gordon had many clutch buckets for the Monarchs and was the key to victory. Peterson was the only other Monarch in double figures with 10 points.
Bellarmine now falls to 13-4 on the year with a 3-4 mark in WCAL play. Although the Bells have a sub .500 record in league, it certainly doesn't reflect their overall ability. Bellarmine could make a late run in the second half of WCAL play and possibly make some noise in the playoffs. They will face Sacred Heart Cathedral at home on Saturday.
For Mitty, this was a good rebound after suffering a disappointing 81-46 loss to Lone Peak (Utah) at the HoopHall Classic. The Monarchs improved to 14-4 on the year with a perfect 8-0 record in the WCAL.
They are still the team to beat and will get some much needed rest before their next game against St. Francis on Wednesday.