The Oglethorpe men's basketball team collected its fourth consecutive win to end the regular season on Saturday night, using an outstanding performance in the first half to pull away from the Berry Vikings and cruise to a 106-89 victory on a night where the program celebrated Senior Night and the 100th anniversary of basketball at the school. The victory means that the Stormy Petrels end the season with a 10-15 overall mark and a 7-7 SAA record, putting them in a tie for fourth place in the league standings. It also means that the Petrels have still never finished lower than fourth in the league during their time in the SAA.
The Petrels played very good defense, especially in the first half, and shot the ball well over the course of the entire game. They held the Vikings to just 36 percent from the field in the opening period while converting at a 60 percent rate themselves. For the full game, the Petrels shot 55 percent from the floor and held Berry to 42 percent. In addition, Oglethorpe converted on 40 percent of their 3-pointers while holding the Vikings to just 23 percent. The Petrels outrebounded the Vikings 49-37. The visitors stayed in the game down the stretch, forcing 17 Oglethorpe turnovers while committing just 7 themselves and outscoring the Petrels 17-6 off those takeaways, but the Petrels were able to maintain their large lead throughout the second half.
They got 29 points from senior forward Drew Patrick on Senior Night, as he made 10 of 14 shots from the field, 4 of 7 from long distance, and 5 of 6 from the free throw line. He also had 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. Junior guard Justin Edwards chipped in 25 points on 8-of-12 from the field and 4 assists, while sophomore center Tom Inungu put up a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 boards.
Among the other seniors, guard George Andino scored 11 points on 3-of-6 from distance and 2-of-2 from the line, throwing in 3 assists. Center Connor Sigrist scored 5 points on 3-of-4 from the free throw line and grabbed 5 rebounds, while guard Mike Turner passed out 4 assists on the night.
The Petrels immediately turned the pressure up and turned the game in their favor at the outset, outscoring Berry 9-0 over the opening two minutes and causing the Vikings to burn a timeout before the 18-minute mark of the half. After the Vikings made it an 11-7 game, the Petrels answered with another big run, outscoring the visitors 15-5 over six minutes to build a 26-12 advantage with 10:25 remaining in the half. Six straight Berry points brought them back to within 26-18 with 9:02 on the clock, but an 11-3 run gave Oglethorpe a 37-21 edge with 5:37 left. Oglethorpe then finished the half on a 12-2 run to build a commanding 53-34 lead going into the break.
Oglethorpe began the second half on a 13-5 run to build their largest lead of the game, a 66-39 bulge with 14:37 remaining. Oglethorpe still led by 27 points, 77-50, with 9:39 remaining. Berry began mounting a comeback at that point, embarking on a 20-6 run to cut the Petrel lead to 13 points, but they were unable to get any closer than that.
"I am really proud of how this team has turned things around and finished the season so strong," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "I thought we played outstanding basketball in the first half to jump out to a big lead, and then just held on in the second half. We are playing as good as any team in the league right now. Who knows what happens next weekend? But if we play like we have these past four games, we definitely have the opportunity to make some waves."
It was a celebratory night for Oglethorpe basketball as a whole, as the two programs honored the 100th anniversary of the sport at the school. A large number of alumni from both the men's and women's programs took to the floor at halftime of the men's game to celebrate the occasion.
The Petrels hold down the No. 6 seed after finishing as part of a 3-way tie for fourth with Sewanee and Hendrix. The Petrels will face off against No. 3 seed Birmingham-Southern in Memphis, Tennessee, in the first round of the SAA Tournament on Friday. The teams split the season series coming into the matchup, with BSC winning in Alabama and Oglethorpe defeating the Panthers in Atlanta last weekend.