Late-game rally not enough for Panthers in 78-70 road loss to Rhodes

Larry Thomas (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)
Larry Thomas (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Despite coming back from a 25-point deficit to cut the lead to five late in the game, the Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team lost to Rhodes on the road, 78-70, Friday evening in Memphis, Tenn.

The Panthers fell to 15-9 overall and 7-6 in the Southern Athletic Association, while the Lynx moved to 17-6 overall and 10-3 in the SAA, tied for first in the standings with Centre College. BSC is now tied for fifth with Oglethorpe.

BSC opened the game with five straight points which would turn out to be its largest lead of the game. After the teams battled back and forth to a 12-12 tie at the 13:14 mark, Rhodes used a 15-2 run over the next five minutes to pull up 27-14. After three straight layups by BSC to cut it to 27-20 with 6:44 left in the half, the Lynx used another big run, this time 15-3, to end the half, with the Panthers' only points coming off free throws. Rhodes led 42-23 at the halftime break.

The teams traded baskets to open the second half, and Rhodes pulled out to its largest lead of the game, 58-33, at the 13:18 mark. After that, the Panthers steadily chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 12, 61-49, with 8:44 remaining, and then seven, 68-61, with 3:58 left in the game. Rhodes pulled back out to a double-digit lead, 73-63, with 2:57 left, after which BSC used a 7-2 run to cut the lead to five, 75-70, with 22 seconds left. The Panthers were forced to foul, where the Lynx hit 3-of-4 in the final 22 seconds, and BSC was unable to make another field goal, allowing Rhodes to come away with the eight-point victory.

Senior Larry Thomas led all players with 24 points, going 8-15 from the field and 7-8 at the free throw line. Junior Alex Avery recorded 12 points on 6-9 shooting, and led all players with nine rebounds. Thomas led with three steals, and Avery led with three assists.

Brennan Sullivan led Rhodes with 23 points off the bench, shooting 8-10 including 6-7 from beyond the arc.

BSC held the rebounding advantage, 32-28, but committed 17 turnovers, six more than the Lynx. The Panthers also struggled from three-point range, hitting a season-low 20 percent (5-25).

BSC wraps up regular season play on Sunday against Hendrix at 3 p.m. in Conway, Ark. The SAA Championship then begins next Friday, Feb. 27, hosted by the top seed.