The Oglethorpe men's basketball team earned a hard-fought 62-57 victory over the visiting Millsaps Majors Sunday afternoon, prevailing in a game in which neither team led by more than five at any point and which featured five ties and 11 lead changes. With the win, the Stormy Petrels improved to 13-9 overall and 7-4 in SAA play, maintaining sole possession of third place in the league.
The Petrels held a slim 56-55 lead with 1:45 remaining on the clock, but senior center Tom Inungu made a free throw at the 1:15 mark to nudge Oglethorpe's lead to two, then made a layup with 30 seconds remaining to give his team a two-possession lead, 59-55. Oglethorpe forced a miss at the other end and grabbed the rebound, getting fouled with 12 seconds remaining. Senior forward Will Perry made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 60-55. The Majors scored with just 1.5 seconds left on the clock to make it 60-57, but the Petrels successfully threw the ball in to freshman guard Ryan Jenei with a second remaining. He made both free throws to secure the win.
The teams went back and forth for much of the second half, but Oglethorpe took the lead for good with a free throw at the 9:40 mark. That gave them a 45-44 edge. They extended that to 51-46 with 7:20 left, then pushed it back out to a five-point lead, 55-50, with 4:40 remaining after Millsaps had cut it to one. The Majors again fought back to make it a one-point game, 56-55, but the Petrels responded in the final 1:45.
The Majors led by as many as four points early in the first half, but Oglethorpe responded with consecutive baskets to take their first lead, 11-10, with 11:30 left. They pushed their advantage to 15-10, outscoring Millsaps 9-0 over a 1:15 stretch. The teams then traded the lead for the remainder of the period.
The Petrels shot 40.8 percent from the field overall and 74.1 percent from the free-throw line, making 20 of 27 total foul shots and 18-of-24 in the second half. They also held Millsaps to 39.3 percent from the field and just 4-of-20 from 3-point range.
Inungu led the home side with 18 points and 10 rebounds, going 6-for-12 from the field and making four steals. Perry scored 11 and grabbed eight rebounds, making three of his four foul shots. Freshman guard Carlos Sone scored 11, as well, sinking all four of his free-throw attempts. He also made three steals.
"That was an old-fashioned slugfest," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "It was a two-possession game [at most] the entire afternoon, and was a really physical game. It was tough to get going offensively because of their size and physicality, but I thought our defense was outstanding again today and is what won it for us. We also shot free throws well, and that's been something of an Achilles' heel for us. I'm very proud of how the guys have come together over the last few weeks. We are playing some good basketball right now, but we've got one heck of a tough road trip coming up, so hopefully we'll be able to continue our momentum."
The Petrels visit Danville, Kentucky, Friday night to take on Centre at 8 p.m., then continue to Tennessee for a battle with Sewanee on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST.