MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Senior Larry Thomas, who earned his second-straight Southern Athletic Association Player of the Year honor earlier this evening, became Birmingham-Southern's all-time leading scorer in the Panthers' 73-54 loss to Rhodes in the semifinals of the SAA Championship, hosted by Rhodes in Memphis, Tenn.
Fourth-seeded BSC ends its season with a record of 16-11, while top-seeded Rhodes moves to 20-6 and will face sixth-seeded Hendrix in tomorrow's championship final.
Thomas needed 10 points to become the program's all-time leading scorer heading into tonight's game, and he scored 11 to bring his career total to 1,666 points, passing James Cason's 1,664 total, which he amassed in 87 games over three seasons from 1993-1996.
After Rhodes scored the opening basket of the game, straight three-pointers from junior Ross Welch and freshman Harrison Deneka put BSC up 6-4 at the 18:32 mark for the Panthers' only lead of the game. After that point, the Lynx scored eight straight points to pull ahead 12-6 with 11:03 left in the first half, and would stay ahead for the remainder of the game. BSC fought back to cut the lead to one, 14-13, by the 6:32 mark, but Rhodes put together a seven-point run to extend the lead back out to 21-13 with three minutes left. The teams traded baskets before the halftime buzzer, at which point Rhodes held a 26-18 lead.
The Panthers came out firing in the second half, scoring six straight points in the first two minutes to cut the lead to 26-24. After the Lynx hit two free throws, another BSC basket cut it to 28-26 at the 17-minute mark, which would be the closest the Panthers would come the rest of the way. Rhodes slowly built up its lead after that point, pulling ahead by 10, 40-30, at the 11:16 mark and building up to a 19-point lead by the final buzzer.
Thomas passed the career milestone with his final shot of the game at the 1:54 mark, ending up with 11 points and a game-high three assists. Junior Alex Avery scored a game-high 16 points on 5-8 shooting from the field and 6-12 shooting at the line, and posted a double-double, his second of the year, with a game-high 10 rebounds. Welch finished with 13 points, going 4-7 from beyond the arc.