BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team erased a 17-point first half deficit to come back and defeat Oglethorpe University 62-59 in the Southern Athletic Association tournament quarterfinals Friday night. BSC (13-13) will take on #2 seed Centre College in the second semifinal on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. for a chance to defend their tournament title.
The Panthers were led by James McLean (Maitland, Fla./Winter Park HS), who finished with a team-high 19 points. Evan Lewis (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay HS) earned 14 points, and both Ian Thom (Cold Spring, N.Y./Croton-Harmon HS) and Matty Rudak (Augustów, Poland/Millbrook School) had double-doubles on the night. Each recorded 11 points. Rudak grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and Thom picked up 10 of his own.
The Panthers trailed by as many as 17 in the first half. They clawed back before the break and continued the rally in the second half. BSC would pull to within three with under eight minutes to play.
McLean hit a three with 4:06 on the clock to bring the Panthers within one, 51-50. The teams would go back and forth down the stretch. McLean hit another three at 1:28 to tie it up at 57-all.
After Oglethorpe converted on one of two free throws to take the lead, Thom hit a running jumper in the paint to put the Panthers back on top 59-58. The Stormy Petrels took the ball out and called timeout with 50 seconds left. They get two shots off but BSC grabs the second rebound and pulls the ball out. Lewis was fouled with 20 seconds left. He misses the first free throw, but makes the second and pushes their lead to two.
Oglethorpe calls timeout immediately to advance the ball. Justin Edwards was fouled going to hoop and sent to the free throw line. He makes the first, but sends the second off the left side of the rim. After a scramble for possession, officials call the ball out on BSC and Oglethorpe gets possession under their own bucket with 12 seconds left. The first jumper rims out and the tip-in rolls around the rim and out as the seconds tick away.
Thom was fouled on the rebound with 0.6 seconds left. He hit the first free throw and Oglethorpe called timeout. Thom came back to the line and hit the second to secure the win.