The Oglethorpe men's basketball team had a tough return from their holiday break on Thursday, as the visiting Methodist Monarchs controlled the contest throughout in an 85-59 win on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Classic at Dorough Field House. The loss dropped the Stormy Petrels to 3-7 on the season.
The Petrels didn't shoot the ball well over the course of the first half, converting on just 29 percent of their field goal attempts over the opening 20 minutes. This allowed Methodist to get out to a 35-22 lead at the break, as they shot 46 percent from the field over that period. The Monarchs also outrebounded Oglethorpe 24-16 over the opening half of play. The Petrels shot and rebounded better in the second half, converting at a 46 percent clip and cutting the rebounding margin to minus-4 (18-14). However, Methodist shot better as well, posting a 55 percent mark in the second half. For the game, the visitors shot 50 percent from the field to the Petrels' 38 percent, and outrebounded Oglethorpe 42-30.
Individually, junior guard Justin Edwards led the team with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Senior forward Drew Patrick added 10 points and led the squad with 7 rebounds. He also dished out a pair of assists. Senior guard Mike Turner added 9 points on 3-of-6 from 3-point range while adding a couple assists of his own.
The Monarchs got off to a good start, outscoring Oglethorpe 12-3 over a 3:40 stretch early in the first half. That run gave them a 17-6 lead with 14:19 remaining in the period. Oglethorpe responded with five straight points, but Methodist continued to push their advantage. They embarked on a 10-0 run starting at the 11:49 mark of the first half, giving themselves a 27-11 lead with 6:46 left. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half, for the most part, but Methodist held a 35-22 advantage going into the locker room.
The Petrels immediately scored five consecutive points to cut the Monarch lead to 35-27 within the first minute of the second half. However, the visitors pulled the lead right back out again with another 10-0 run over a brief 1:10 period, giving themselves a 47-29 lead with 16:36 remaining. The Monarchs led 57-37 with 11:46 left, but Oglethorpe ran off seven consecutive points to make it a 57-44 game with 10:36 to go. Methodist scored four straight, facilitated by a couple of technical foul free throws, and pushed their lead back out to 17, but the Petrels immediately answered with five points of their own, cutting the deficit to 12 points, 61-49. From there, though, the Monarchs put the game away with an 18-0 run over a 4:04 stretch, giving themselves an 81-51 lead, their largest of the game. The visitors cruised to the victory from there.
The Petrels did outscore the Monarchs 15-10 off the bench and outshot them from the 3-point line, converting on 23 percent of their attempts to Methodist's 21 percent. Methodist outscored Oglethorpe 15-4 in second-chance points.
"We are struggling right now," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "There's no way to sugarcoat that. We've been decimated by injuries, but we have to have guys step up. We showed signs of life for about 10 minutes tonight, but we have to have that type of intensity for 40 minutes, not 10. We'll hopefully be getting some guys back from injury soon, and that will be a shot in the arm, but we have a lot of areas we still need to improve in right now. Despite our current struggles, I still think we have a chance to do some good things this season. We have two games to get better before we hit the conference schedule."
The Petrels will complete the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Classic Friday afternoon, as they take on Stevenson at 4 p.m. from Dorough Field House. The Mustangs fell 65-60 to Sewanee in Thursday's opening game. The Tigers will take on Methodist at 2 p.m. in Friday's first game.