Strong second half propels Panthers past Oglethorpe in SAA Championship quarterfinals

Strong second half propels Panthers past Oglethorpe in SAA Championship quarterfinals

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Shooting 75 percent in the second half, the Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team rallied to a 94-69 victory against Oglethorpe Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Southern Athletic Association Championship, hosted by Rhodes in Memphis, Tenn.

The Panthers move to 16-10, while the Stormy Petrels end their season with the same record. Fourth-seeded BSC moves on to face top-seeded Rhodes in the semifinals tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Oglethorpe led for much of the first half, staying a step ahead of the Panthers and leading by as much as 11, 32-21, at the 6:43 mark. BSC out-scored the Petrels 17-6 after that to tie things up, 38-38, with 1:27 left in the half, and a basket from sophomore Evan Lewis with 10 seconds left gave the Panthers their first lead of the game heading into halftime.

The teams traded baskets to open the second half, including three three-pointers from senior Larry Thomas, and BSC kept a small lead until the 14:24 mark, when a three-pointer from Drew Patrick put OU up 55-54. The Panthers responded with two three-pointers, though, to pull back ahead, and steadily increased their lead over the remainder of the game. BSC led 81-69 with 4:30 left, and held OU scoreless for the rest of the game while scoring 13 points to increase the lead to 94-69 by the final buzzer.

Thomas led all players with 23 points, 20 of those coming in the second half, shooting 7-13 from the field and 6-10 from beyond the arc. Freshman Harrison Deneka added 13 points, shooting 5-6, as well as sophomore John Crain with 13 points off the bench. Lewis recorded 12 points, also off the bench, and junior Alex Avery scored 10 while pulling down a game-high nine rebounds and dishing out a game-high seven assists.

Patrick led five Petrels in double figures with 15 points.

For the game the Panthers shot 61.7 percent (37-60), the second-highest showing of the season, and a season-high 63.6 percent (14-22) from three-point range. BSC also held the rebounding advantage, 32-23.