SAA Tournament: Free Throws Lift Rhodes over Panthers

SAA Tournament: Free Throws Lift Rhodes over Panthers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team held top seeded Rhodes College to under 100 points for only the third time this season, but could not get the right buckets to drop in the final seconds of the Southern Athletic Association championship Sunday afternoon and fell 98-95.


Matty Rudak (Augustów, Poland/Millbrook School) and Evan Lewis (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay HS) led with a game-high 25 points each.  Rudak finished with a double-double after grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds, 11 defensive. 


Harrison Deneka (Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers HS) earned 14 points.  Ian Thom (Cold Spring, N.Y./Croton-Harmon HS) rounded out the Panthers in double-digits with 11 points, respectively.


BSC fought back into the game during the second half.  Trailing by one, 93-92, with under two minutes to play Lewis was fouled going to the bucket.  He hit the first free throw but the second rimmed out and Rhodes grabbed the rebound. Thom then fouled Brennan Sullivan who hit both of his free throws to give the Lynx the lead, 95-93.


After Rudak got stripped under the basket on the next possession, the Panthers played tight defense and forced a shot clock violation when Deneka blocked a last second layup attempt.


But BSC was unable to convert on their next opportunity, and fouled Sullivan again.  He hit both free throws to push the lead to four with just over four seconds to play.  Rhodes would hold on for the win.


BSC closed its 2016-17 season with a 14-14 record.  Five Panthers averaged double-figures, led by Thom and Deneka.  James McLean (Maitland, Fla./Winter Park HS), Rudak, and Lewis also averaged over 10 points per game.


Deneka came on strong during conference play, averaging over 14 points and eight rebounds per game against SAA opponents.  He and Thom were named second-team all-conference for their play.


As a team, the Panthers averaged over 75 points per game, shooting 45 percent from the floor.