February 23, 2013

Despte Valiant Effort, Men's Basketball Loses at Centre in SAA Semis

The Oglethorpe men's basketball team saw its season come to an end Saturday evening, as they lost to top-seeded host team Centre, 89-80, in the SAA Tournament semifinals in Danville, Ky. 

The Petrels simply could not recover from a first half in which Centre outscored them 41-29 and had a 17-point lead at one point. 

Oglethorpe jumped in front with a quick 5-0 run to start the game, but saw that lead turned around in a hurry with a 21-8 Centre run. The run gave the Colonels a 21-13 lead with 8:46 remaining in the half. That run was almost immediately followed by an 18-3 run, and Centre had a 17-point lead, 39-22, with 1:56 left on the first-half clock. In total, Centre outscored the Petrels 39-17 from the time the Petrels took their five-point lead early in the half to the time the Colonels took their 17-point one late.

Firmly behind the 8-ball, the Petrels refused to go quietly. They outscored Centre 7-2 the rest of the half, cutting the deficit to 12 points at the break. Then in the second half, they coninued trying to claw their way back into the game. They went on a 9-3 mini-run early in the half to cut the Centre lead to eight with 15:04 remaining.

However, perhaps mindful of Oglethorpe's comeback in the second half from a similar deficit in Atlanta earlier this year, did not let it happen again. They pushed the lead back out to 15. 

The two teams traded baskets much of the half, but Oglethorpe slowly whittled the Centre lead down to six points with 2:47 to go. However, Centre pushed it back to an 11-point lead, 83-72, with 1:29 left and, though the Petrels continued fighting all the way to the end, Centre prevailed in the end by a nine-point margin.

The Petrels might have had a chance to make it all the way back had Centre not shot so well in the second half. They shot 62 percent from the field over the course of the period, and wound up at 55 percent for the game, including 46 percent from 3-point range. Oglethorpe shot 44 percent for the game. The Colonels outscored Oglethorpe off the bench 39-23, as well. 

The 80 points Oglethorpe scored against Centre this evening was the most anybody had scored against the Colonels all season. The Petrels also held the previous mark of 77, which occured in the February 1 comeback win in Dorough Field House.

In the final game of their college careers, senior guards Branden Jovaag and Christian Molinet led the way for the Petrels. Jovaag scored 15 points on 5-of-9 3-point shooting, while Molinet added 12 points on 6-of-12 shooting, five assists and three steals. Sophomore guard Alex Davis also chipped in 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

The loss means that the Petrels finish the season 17-10. It marks the most wins they've had in a season since the 1994-95 season. Their 8-6 SAA record was good for a fourth-place tie in the league's inaugural season.

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