The Saint Francis men’s basketball team has only lost three of its 16 games this season, but there has been a recurring theme in all three losses. Poor free throw shooting.
The problem arose again Friday, as the Cougars (13-3) fell in the championship game of to the hosts in the Bellevue (Neb.) Classic 69-68 to split their two games in the event.
Saint Francis missed half of its 12 free throws, while in earlier losses to Goshen (9 missed free throws) and IU East (11 misses) it also struggled.
In the opening half, the Cougars raced out to a 10-2 lead, but Bellevue answered with a 21-8 run over the next eight minutes before taking a 37-35 lead into the break.
Neither team was able to gain much separation in the second half, but the Cougars took a 68-63 lead with 1:04 remaining. However, in the final minute, Bellevue (11-7) buried a pair of 3-pointers, the last being with 19 seconds left in the game, while Saint Francis missed a pair of jumpers.
Fifth-year senior center Kyle Sovine paced the Cougars with 21 points and seven rebounds, while junior forward Bryce Lienhoop added 15 points, six assists and six boards in the loss.
Perry Poindexter had 10 points for the Cougars, while Evan Henry and Chandler White combined for 17.
Saint Francis opened the tournament with a 93-80 win Thursday against Mid-America Nazarene.
The Cougars will get back into Crossroads League play by hosting Grace at the Hutzell Athletic Center at 8 p.m.