The Oglethorpe men's basketball team outlasted a tough defensive Millsaps squad for much of the game Friday night in Dorough Field House, then pulled away in the second half for a 77-62 victory on Homecoming that saw them keep pace with the rest of the upper-echelon SAA teams at 6-3 in the conference, 15-5 overall.
The two teams locked in a tough defensive battle over the course of the opening period with the Stormy Petrels leading just 27-22 at the halftime break. Both teams shot just 36 percent in the first half. However, the Petrels pushed the game more to their liking in the second, almost doubling their first-half point total in outscoring the Majors 50-40 over the course of the second stanza and shooting 50 percent from the field and 54 percent from the three-point line. They led by as many as 29 points with 5:03 to go in the contest before Millsaps drew closer late.
Both teams finished at 43 percent from the field for the game, but the Petrels converted on 42 percent of their three-point attempts while Millsaps sank just 27 percent of theirs. Oglethorpe sank 16 free throws over the course of the game while the Majors sank just four. The Petrels outrebounded the Majors, 38-32, and forced 17 Millsaps turnovers, leading to 20 Oglethorpe points.
Junior guard Drew Patrick finished with 21 points for the game on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and 5-of-8 from the three-point line. He scored 18 points on 6-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from long range in the second half. Freshman Chris Lawrence came in with 12 points off the bench for the Petrels, while senior Jordan Kinney led the squad with 11 rebounds and scored eight points. Senior guard Alex Davis led the team with four assists and grabbed six rebounds, as well.
The Petrels began the game with a 7-0 run over the first five minutes, but Millsaps quickly clawed their way back to within three. Oglethorpe embarked on a 15-5 run over the next four minutes, though, and led 22-9 with 9:03 left in the half. That run provided the Petrels with their cushion over a large portion of the game, as Millsaps was able to get to within five a couple of times and three once but was never able to tie the game or grab a lead. The visitors ran off three straight baskets to cut the deficit to seven points with 5:31 to play in the opening stanza but the Petrels pushed the advantage back out to 10 points with back-to-back baskets of their own. Millsaps ended the half on a 5-0 mini-spurt, though, pulling to within five points at the break.
That became a 7-0 mini-spurt when the Majors sank the first basket of the second half, making the score 27-24. However, the Petrels began to slowly pull away from there and did so for much of the second half. They went on a 24-8 run which ended with 10:21 remaining, giving themselves a 51-32 lead with 10:21 left. Then after Millsaps cut it to 15, the Petrels put the game away with an 18-2 run over the next 3:30, grabbing their largest lead of the game, 71-42, with 5:03 left. Millsaps came back with an 11-3 run and finished the game on a 9-0 spurt, but they couldn't get any closer than 15 points.
"I really liked our energy tonight," said Head Coach Philip Ponder. "We missed some shots we normally make in the first half, but I knew if we kept our energy up, things would start to go our way. We had a stretch in the second half where we played extremely well. We are going to need the same type of intensity on Sunday and for the rest of the season."
The Petrels now sit in a tie with Centre for third place in the league, a game back of the first-place tie between Rhodes and Sewanee. The Petrels will welcome fifth-place Birmingham-Southern, who the Petrels find themselves just a game ahead of in the standings, to Dorough Field House Sunday at 3 p.m. Next weekend, they'll go on their last road trip of the regular season against Rhodes and Hendrix.