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Panthers edge Sewanee at home, 74-73

Matty Rudak (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)
Matty Rudak (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—In another thrilling win, the Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team defeated Sewanee, 74-73, Sunday afternoon in Bill Battle Coliseum to move to the top of the Southern Athletic Association standings.

The Panthers have won seven games in a row, moving to 11-6 overall and 6-0 in the SAA. The Tigers fell to 11-6 and 4-2 in the league. BSC is also 7-0 at home, and is an impressive 79-5 over the past seven seasons in Bill Battle Coliseum.

The first half featured five ties and three lead changes up to the 21-21 mark, after which Sewanee scored seven straight points and led for the rest of the period, taking a 37-31 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Tigers increased their margin to open the second half, building up to their largest lead of the game so far, 54-43, at the 13:08 mark. But the Panthers clawed back, scoring nine straight to cut it to two, 54-52, and then cut it to one, 59-58, at the 9:12 mark on a layup from junior Ian Thom. A layup from sophomore Harrison Deneka a little over a minute later finally tied things up for the first time since the 21-21 tie in the first, and a layup by senior Alex Avery put BSC in the lead, 63-61, at the 7:27 mark, the Panthers' first lead since the 7:10 mark of the first.

The teams traded baskets after that, but BSC was able to pull out to a 69-64 lead with 3:39 left to play, and then a 74-68 lead with 1:33 on the clock. Two straight Sewanee layups, the last one converted to a three-point play with a free throw, cut it to 74-73 with 42 seconds left in the game. BSC turned the ball over on the next possession, and the Tigers had a chance to take the lead with 14 seconds on the clock. After a timeout, the Tigers missed a three-pointer and a jumper as time expired.

Freshman Mateusz "Matty" Rudak led BSC off the bench with 14 points and seven rebounds, shooting 5-10 from the field, and junior James McLean added 13 points, also off the bench, on 5-8 shooting. Avery went 5-8 and ended up with 13 points, and he and Thom led with three assists each. 

Keshonn Carter led four Tigers in double figures with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Brody Stone also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Panthers committed a season-low seven turnovers, but also pulled down a season-low 28 rebounds.

BSC is on the road for the next four games, and will travel to face Rhodes and Hendrix next Friday and Sunday, Jan. 29 and 31.