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February 20, 2011

Panthers win SCAC Regular Season Championship

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team won its first ever Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season title with a 67-63 win against No. 23 Centre College today in Bill Battle Coliseum.

The Panthers move to 21-3 overall and end the conference regular season with a 14-2 record, while the Colonels fall to 18-5, 13-3 in the SCAC. BSC has also now won 30 straight home games.

Today was also Senior Day for BSC, as Isiah Doaty, Mark Messenger, Patrick Price, and Phil Rodgers were honored prior to the game.

The Panthers dominated the Colonels for the majority of the game, opening up with a 7-0 lead and going up by as much as 16, 30-14, in the first half before taking a 38-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.

BSC hit its largest lead of the game, 17, twice in the first four minutes of the second half, and still led by 12, 52-40, with 11 minutes left. Centre would not stay down, however, and used a 10-1 run after that point to cut the lead to three, 53-50, with 6:21 left in the game.

The Colonels stayed right on the Panthers' heels after that, cutting the BSC lead to two, 62-60, with 1:16 left. Price went to the free throw line and hit both to put BSC back up by four with 32 seconds left, and sophomore Blaise White went to the line with six seconds left and made one of two, putting the Panthers up 65-60. Centre's Jeff Mullaney answered with a three-pointer with four seconds left, prompting the Colonels to call their last time out. Jonus was fouled with two seconds left, and sank both of his free throws to put BSC back up by four, and Centre missed a shot at the buzzer to give the Panthers the 67-63 conference championship victory.

Jonus led BSC with 14 points, followed by White and Price with 12 apiece and Messenger with 11. Sophomore Zac Richards led with eight rebounds, and White led with three assists.

Mullaney led all players with 21 points and four assists for Centre, while Greg Ross and Donovan Whiteside added 12 points each. Alex Lloyd led with a game-high 10 rebounds.

Centre out-shot BSC at every category, going 22-of-47 (46.8 percent) from the field to BSC's 24-of-54 (44.4 percent) showing, and hitting 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc while BSC was 5-of-20 (25 percent). The Colonels were also more effective at the free throw line, going 13-of-15 (86.7 percent) while the Panthers went 14-of-24 (58.3 percent).

BSC had one more rebound than Centre with 31, and committed only five turnovers to Centre's nine.

The Panthers are on the road this Thursday, traveling to take on the University of New Orleans at 7 p.m. BSC then travels north to Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, for a post-season provisional tournament, featuring BSC, Franciscan, Berry College, and Covenant College, who are all NCAA Division III provisional members.