The men's basketball team took a huge step toward earning a postseason berth in the SCAC Tournament on Friday night when they thrashed Sewanee on Pinholster Court during Homecoming festivities, 69-49. The Petrels turned a two point game with 8:40 to play into a laugher by closing the game on a 23-5 spurt.
The game got off to a ragged start, particularly for the Tigers who only scored 7 points in the game's first 13.5 minutes. Still, Sewanee only trailed by 9 at that juncture as the Petrels struggled to find their rhythm as well. Fortunately, the Petrels got strong first halves from Branden Jovaag and Andrew Steioff to open up a 29-18 advantage at the break. Jovaag drilled 4-of-6 treys in the first stanza to lead all scorers with 12 and Steioff contributed 9 points with most of his damage coming at the free throw line.
Both teams heated up in the early stages of the second half as the squads traded baskets. After Alec Pitts converted a hoop and free throw the Petrels owned their largest lead of the night at 42-29 with 13:55 to play. The Tigers, however, responded with a 15-4 burst to suddenly make it a two point game with 8:40 showing on the clock. That's when Oglethorpe began their game ending 23-5 run to slam the door shut on Sewanee.
The game ending stretch for Oglethorpe included a myriad of fine plays. Christian Molinet began the series with a driving hoop and, after a three-ball from Pitts, Sam Purdy got free for a layup on the following possession to suddenly up the margin to 9. Pitts kept the momentum going with another clutch three before Steioff rattled off 4 straight points as the margin swelled to 16 with 3:28 to play. The Tigers managed to trim the lead back to 13 before Oglethorpe posted the last 7 points of the game, the final two coming via a thunderous dunk from Steioff who was celebrating Senior Day.
Steioff enjoyed a fine Senior Day as well as he led all scorers with 21 points on the night to go along with 8 rebounds and four rejections. Pitts tallied 18 points and 5 caroms while Jovaag posted 14 points and 6 rebounds of his own. Molinet rounded out the Petrels in double-figures with 11 in the win. Tyler Cerone, the Petrels other senior, grabbed three rebounds and dished an assist to help contribute to the fine occasion.
The Petrels are now 11-12 on the season, and, more importantly, a half game ahead of Sewanee for the final SCAC East playoff berth. The Petrels will square off with Centre College on Sunday before closing their regular season next Saturday at Birmingham-Southern. Sunday's tip on Pinholster Court against the Colonels is set for 3:00 p.m.