The Oglethorpe men's basketball team got their weekend stay in Purchase, New York, off to a good start Friday night. They defeated Sage 81-70 to open the four-team AJ Buchanan Classic, hosted by Manhattanville College. With the win, the Stormy Petrels improved to 2-0 on the young season and advanced to Saturday's championship game against Manhattanville.
The Petrels were helped to victory by sophomore forward Will Koch, who scored a career-high 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field overall and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. He also grabbed seven rebounds and passed out three assists. Senior forward Will Perry garnered his second straight double double as he scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He also sank 7 of 14 field goal attempts and passed out three assists. Senior center Tom Inungu also scored in double figures, tallying 11 points and nine rebounds while converting on 5 of 6 free-throw attempts.
The Gators grabbed an early advantage, pushing out to a 10-6 lead over the opening 6:20. The Petrels turned the game around at that point, though, and the four-point advantage served as Sage's largest of the game.
Oglethorpe went on a 17-0 run over the next 4:45 and took a 23-10 lead at the 8:36 mark of the opening half. The Gators slowly whittled the lead down over the remainder of the half, getting as close as four points, 30-26, with 26 seconds remaining. Freshman guard Ryan Jenei hit a big 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, though, and gave his team a 33-26 lead at the break.
The Petrels immediately scored consecutive baskets from Koch and Perry to push their lead out to 38-26 just over a minute into the half. The Gators then sank three straight baskets and a free throw to pull back to within four, 40-36. From there, though, it was a 13-3 Oglethorpe run that propelled the Petrels to their largest lead of the game, 53-39 with 10:26 on the clock. Sage cut the Oglethorpe advantage to just five at the 4:39 mark after embarking on a 9-4 minirun. They got no closer, however. Oglethorpe extended their lead back out to as many as 12 points en route to the 81-70 win.
The Petrels shot 44.6 percent from the field and 68.6 percent from the free-throw line. Despite the fact that Sage was even with them in turnovers and offensive rebounds, the Petrels outscored their opponent 25-17 off turnovers and 16-10 in second chance points. The Petrels outrebounded the Gators 45-37 overall.
Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder said: "We came out a little flat offensively, but our defense allowed us to take the lead into the half. It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but we'll take it. We are looking forward to trying to win the tournament tomorrow afternoon."
The Petrels take on the host Valiants in the championship game of the AJ Buchanan Classic Saturday at approximately 3 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the consolation game between Sage and St. Joseph's (Brooklyn) at 1 p.m.