LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After an arduous six-game stretch on the road, the Bellarmine men’s basketball team makes its 2021-22 home debut on Sunday, hosting the Franklin College Grizzlies at 3 p.m. in Freedom Hall.
The game will renew a series with Franklin that dates back to 1954 but includes just eight games, the last coming in 1975.  The Grizzlies hold a 5-3 edge in the series history.
In the 46 years since the teams last squared off a lot has changed, most notably Bellarmine rising to Division I.  Franklin competes at the Division III level and are members of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, which includes a pair of schools that were on BU’s schedule last season:  Transylvania and Mount St. Joseph’s.  
Bellarmine enters Sunday’s game after securing its first win of the season on Tuesday, a 76-69 victory over Central Michigan in game played as part of the Good Sam Empire Classic in Las Vegas. Prior to that contest, the Knights (1-5) had opened the season playing three teams currently ranked 1, 2 and 3 in nation (Gonzaga, UCLA and Purdue) to go along with true road games at Murray State and Saint Mary’s (CA). 
Through that gauntlet, senior Dylan Penn has emerged as the top Bellarmine scorer.  The Evansville native and All-ASUN performer has twice equaled his career high with 27 points (against SMC and UCM) and is averaging 17.5 points per contest. Penn also was named to the Good Sam Empire Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 23 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in games against UCLA and Central Michigan.
Joining Penn as a double-digit scorer this year is graduate student CJ Fleming, who is putting up 10.5 points per game.  The Knights’ top 3-point threat, Fleming is hitting 40 percent from downtown and is 14 triples away from becoming just the sixth Knight to eclipse the 200 mark for his career.
The visiting Grizzlies are the defending HCAC tournament champions.  Franklin, as most of the nation, had to play an abbreviated schedule last year and finished with a 9-6 record las season. 
This year, Franklin was ranked fifth in the HCAC’s preseason coaches poll, but the Grizzlies are off to a 2-1 start, falling at home to Otterbein before going on the road to post wins over Aurora and Centre.  Individually, all five starters are averaging in double digits:  Ty Wright, 17.7; Matt Krause, 16.0; Ryan Wiggins 10.3; T. J. Deere, 10.0; Mitch O’Mara, 10.0.
Sunday’s game has been designated as military and veteran appreciation day. The Bellarmine University Office of Military and Veteran Services will sponsor special pregame and halftime presentations.
For more coverage of Bellarmine athletics, follow us on Twitter (@BUKnights), Instagram (BUKnights) and Facebook (BUKnights).


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