The Oglethorpe men's basketball team led for most of the game Sunday afternoon against Johnson University-Tennessee at the Maryville Thanksgiving Classic, but the Royals came back to take the lead with just over 3 minutes left and held on for an 89-87 win at Maryville's Boydson Baird Gymnasium. The loss dropped the Stormy Petrels to 3-3 on the season.
Johnson shot 47.8 percent to Oglethorpe's 44.4 and made 50 percent of their treys to Oglethorpe's 30.2 percent. The Petrels converted on a perfect 10 of 10 free throws, though, and outscored the Royals 11-4 in second-chance points. They also forced 18 Johnson turnovers and outscored them 25-14 off those takeaways.
The Petrels got another outstanding performance from junior Dimetri Chambers off the bench, as he scored 26 points. Sophomore guard Carlos Sone added 15 points on 6-of-8 from the field overall and 3-of-5 from long distance, while junior forward Will Koch scored 7 points and grabbed seven rebounds. It wasn't enough to hold off Johnson, though.
Oglethorpe held a 76-67 lead with just under 7:20 left in the contest. Johnson used a 9-point run, highlighted by 17 second-half points on 5-for-5 three-point shooting off the bench from Toure Fudge, to tie the score 76-76 with 5:35 left. The Petrels used a Sone trey and a pair of Chambers free throws to pull back ahead 81-76 with 4:45 left, but 10 straight points gave the Royals their largest advantage of the game, 86-81, with just 1:35 on the clock. Chambers made a jumper to cut the Johnson edge to 3 points with 1:15 left, and Foster made a couple free throws to make it 86-85 with 20 seconds on the clock. The Royals went back ahead by 3 with a couple of free throws, but Foster drove to the basket to make it 88-87 with 5 seconds left. Johnson made only one foul shot at the other end, and Chambers had a good look at a potential game-winning trey at the buzzer. His shot sailed long, though, securing victory for the Royals.
Up 42-35 at halftime, the Petrels withstood an early run by Johnson that cut the Oglethorpe lead to 45-43 a few minutes into the second half. Oglethorpe went on a 15-6 run over 3:40 to build their largest lead of the second half, 65-54, with 12:15 remaining.
The Petrels began the game on a 17-5 run over the opening 9:15 of the contest, then went on a 12-5 run over 2:35 to climb to their largest lead of the game, 32-18, with 5:35 left in the first half. The Royals got as close as 5 points late in the period, but the Petrels took a 42-35 lead into the break.
"This was a tough one," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "We led for over 35 minutes but couldn't get stops down the stretch. Fudge was hitting 3-pointers from well beyond NBA range. This was the first game where we couldn't get stops consistently, but that's a really good team. They have shooting, athleticism and size. We are starting to score the ball better. Now we just have to put things together on both sides of the court and finish a little better, but I am seeing progress each game."
The Petrels return to Georgia and head to Demorest Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to take on Piedmont. After that, they'll host Berry in the SAA opener for both teams Saturday at approximately 7 p.m.