The Oglethorpe men's basketball team staged a valiant comeback Friday night against Birmingham-Southern at Dorough Field House, but there just wasn't enough time in the end, and the Stormy Petrels fell just short, 77-74.
Down by 16 points with 3:27 remaining, the Petrels staged a furious rally. They went on an 18-4 run, somehow slicing the Panthers lead to two points with 11 seconds remaining, 76-74. In fact, they were still down by 11 with a minute remaining, but a series of steals, baskets and missed free throws gave the home team a chance to somehow steal the game. At the other end, Birmingham-Southern made 1-of-2 free throws with seven seconds left, giving the Petrels a chance to tie on the last shot. However, that shot sailed long at the buzzer, and despite the gutsy effort, the Petrels went down to defeat, 77-74.
What really lost this game for Oglethorpe, though, was the first seven minutes of the second half. Down by eight within the first minute of the half, the Petrels went ice cold from the field and started turning the ball over, as well. Over that period, the visiting Panthers went on a 14-0 run, taking the deficit from a manageable eight points to a seemingly insurmountable 22, 59-37.
Oglethorpe did get back into the game, though, with plenty of time left, as they incredibly went on a 17-0 run of their own. The BSC lead was five points, 59-54, with 7:06 remaining. But the Petrels couldn't sustain it, and a 13-2 Birmingham-Southern run put the Petrels in dire straights at the end.
The first half was a shooting gallery, as both teams shot around 60 percent for the half. The Panthers shot 62 percent, while the Petrels shot 57, and were over 60 for most of the half. The Panthers led pretty much the entire half, but the Petrels were within five, 40-35, with 1:30 left in the period when BSC made two straight baskets to take a 10-point lead into halftime.
Shooting cooled considerably in the second half, especially with Birmingham-Southern's 32 percent effort for the second period. In the end, Oglethorpe actually outshot the Panthers 53-to-48 percent. The Petrels shot only 64 percent from the free-throw line, while Birmingham-Southern shot 84 percent. Due to the Petrels pressing BSC for most of the second half to get back into the game, they outscored the visitors on the fast break 23-6.
Senior Christian Molinet had a great game, willing the Petrels back into it at times. He scored 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Sophomore guard Alex Davis added 17 points of his own on 7-of-11 shooting, while senior guard Alec Pitts poured in 12 on a 4-for-5 night.
The loss drops the Petrels to 15-9 on the season, 7-6 in SAA competition. Sewanee lost tonight, as well, so the two teams maintain their fourth-place tie. Oglethorpe and Sewanee are now guaranteed to finish 4-5 in some order, so the two teams will face off next Friday in the quarterfinals of the SAA Tournament. The Petrels will close their regular-season slate on Sunday afternoon, when they welcome Millsaps into Dorough Field House at 3 p.m.