Men's Basketball defeats University of the Ozarks in thrilling season opener, 72-71

Rust vs. Berry | BSC vs. Ozarks

The Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team tipped off the 2010-2011 season with a thrilling 72-71 victory over University of the Ozarks, Friday evening in Bill Battle Coliseum.

The game was part of the Black Tie Tournament. In the first game of the night, Rust College defeated Berry College, 80-74. The Panthers will face Rust in the championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m., while Berry will face Ozarks at 1 p.m.

Sophomore Zac Richards led BSC with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Senior Patrick Price also recorded 16 points, while junior Jasen Jonus and sophomore Blaise White posted 14 points each.

Ozarks dominated play for the first half of the game, leading by as much as 12, 28-16, at the 5:14 mark before taking an eight-point 38-30 lead into halftime.

The Panthers came out firing in the second half, scoring 10 straight points to take over the lead, 40-38, by the 16:50 mark. Play was back-and-forth after that point, but the Eagles were able to claw back up to a six-point lead, 59-53, with 6:25 remaining in the game. BSC cut it to one, but Ozarks stayed ahead and went back up by five, 66-61, with 2:10 on the clock.

BSC finally tied things up, 69-69, with one minute left to play, but Ozarks quickly took back the lead on a layup by Jerard McGinty with 32 seconds remaining. After that, Richards was fouled and went to the free throw line, where he made one of two to bring the score to 71-70 in favor of the Eagles with 23 seconds on the clock. After a time out by the Eagles, Ozarks turned the ball over on the inbounds play to give the Panthers a chance to take the lead down the stretch.

The Panthers called a time out with 16 seconds left in the game, after which White scored on a layup in traffic and was fouled on the play to put BSC up 72-71. He missed the free throw shot with 11 seconds left, and the Eagles pulled down the rebound, but were unable to score, giving BSC the one-point victory.

BSC shot 39.4 percent (26-of-66) for the game, including a 34.6 percent (9-of-26) showing from beyond the arc. They also struggled at the free throw line, going 11-of-18 for 61.1 percent.

Ozarks was led by Andre Williams with 20 points and Marcus Bobb with eight rebounds. Isaiah Boxell also recorded 12 points. The Eagles shot 56.1 percent (23-of-41) from the field, 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from three-point range, and 78.9 percent (15-of-19) at the line.

Ozarks out-rebounded BSC, 34-33, but turned the ball over 25 times, while the Panthers only recorded 12 turnovers.