The Oglethorpe men's basketball team got a game-winning jumper from senior guard Tyler Courson Saturday to beat second-seeded Birmingham-Southern 72-70 in the SAA semifinals in Danville, Ky.
The victory is the Stormy Petrels' 21st of the season, marking the most wins they've had in a season in modern program history. It also advances them to the SAA championship game against top-seeded Centre, the hosts of the tournament. They knocked off fourth-seeded Rhodes, 64-61, on Saturday to book their passage to the championship game. The SAA Men's Basketball Championship tips off at 1 p.m.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Petrels were down by as many as seven early in the second half, but an 18-7 run brought them back to within a single point, 48-47, with 11:41 remaining in the game. The Panthers pushed the lead back up to five, but the Petrels quickly came back with another mini-run and took the lead, 53-52, on a three-pointer from freshman guard Connor Smith. They would never trail again.
The Petrels built their lead to as much as five, 59-54, with 4:55 remaining. The Panthers would not let it get away from them, however. They brought it back to a one-point game, but the Petrels continued making shots and pushed it back out to another five-point advantage, 69-64 with 56 seconds left, when freshman Romello Bates knocked home a shot. The Panthers went on a 6-1 run, however, and tied the game at 70-70 with 15 seconds on the clock. That set the stage for Courson, who buried a hanging jumper from the foul line with 2.1 seconds on the clock to give the Petrels the 72-70 lead. Birmingham-Southern was unable to get a decent look at the basket on the other end and Oglethorpe had their semifinal victory over a Panthers team that swept them in the regular season.
Smith poured in 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting for the Petrels, including 5-of-7 from three-point range. Junior center Jordan Kinney contributed 14 points on 6-of-7 free-throw shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and two steals. Meanwhile, junior guard Alex Davis added 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
The Petrels outshot the Panthers 51-to-44 percent, including 50-to-23 percent from the three-point line and 90-to-81 percent from the free-throw stripe. The Petrels dominated Birmingham-Southern on the glass, as well, outrebounding them 32-22.
The 22-4 Centre Colonels defeated the Stormy Petrels in both regular-season meetings.