BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—In a hard-fought contest from start to finish, the top-seeded Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team held on to defeat fifth-seeded Berry, 87-80, in the semifinal round of the Southern Athletic Association Championship, Saturday evening in Bill Battle Coliseum.
The Panthers moved to 21-6, while the Vikings fell to 10-17. BSC will face the winner of this evening's semifinal match between No. 2 Sewanee and No. 3 Centre.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- BSC raced out to a 9-2 lead to open the game, but Berry responded with a 14-2 run to go up 16-11 by the 11:23 mark.
- A three-pointer from senior John Crain at the 8:09 mark put BSC back ahead, 22-21, and the teams traded leads several times the rest of the way before taking a 38-38 lead into halftime.
- The Panthers opened the second half with an 8-2 run to go up 46-40, and led the rest of the way.
- BSC led by as much as 10 in the second half, 60-50 at the 12:25 mark, but the Vikings stayed just on the Panthers' heels, fighting back to cut it to 75-72 at the 4:24 mark.
- BSC built back up to an 81-73 lead after that, and led 87-78 late in the game before a Berry layup cut it to 87-80 with six seconds left.
- Sophomore Harrison Deneka recorded 21 points on 7-10 shooting.
- Senior Alex Avery posted his 16th double-double of the season with 16 points on 6-11 shooting and 13 rebounds.
- Junior Evan Lewis added 13 points on 5-7 shooting, and senior Ross Welch had 12 points.
- Freshman Mateusz "Matty" Rudak recorded 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
- Avery and junior Ian Thom led the Panthers with four assists apiece, and Avery led with three blocks.
- Berry's Blake Scherman led all players with 27 points, and Owen Jacobs pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
- BSC plays for the 2016 SAA crown on Sunday at 3 p.m., facing the winner of the game between No. 2 Sewanee and No. 3 Centre.