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Richards leads BSC past Millsaps in overtime, 65-60

Zac Richards (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

JACKSON, Miss.—Senior Zac Richards led the Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team with a career-high 33 points on Saturday in a 65-60 overtime win against Millsaps on the road.

The Panthers move to 4-2, while the Majors fall to 2-5.

BSC opened the game with a 15-2 lead, but the Majors responded with a 13-2 run to cut it to 17-15 with 6:41 left in the first half. Millsaps tied it up 19-19 at the 4:09 mark, and then pulled ahead for the first time since the first minute of the game, 24-23, with 1:25 left in the half. The Majors led 26-25 at halftime.

Sophomore Larry Thomas hit a three-pointer to open the second half and put the Panthers back ahead, 28-26, and the rest of the second half was a battle, with the teams playing to several ties, including a 50-50 knot with 2:40 remaining, after which Millsaps pulled up 57-52 with 36 seconds left in the game.

Richards made a layup 12 seconds later to cut it to 57-54, and Thomas recorded a steal with 13 seconds left to give the Panthers a chance to tie it up. After a missed layup and offensive rebound by Richards, senior Kevin Kegarise nailed a three-pointer as time expired to tie things up 57-57 and send the game to overtime.

Millsaps pulled ahead within the first minute of overtime, hitting two free throws, but the Panthers responded with a Richards layup to tie it up again with 3:12 left. Thomas made a layup after that to put BSC up 61-59, after which the Majors went to the free throw line and made one of two to cut it to 61-60. Thomas went to the line after that and made both, increasing BSC's lead to 63-60 with 1:48 left. Millsaps turned the ball over after that, with Richards recording a steal, but the Panthers missed a layup and the Majors pulled down the rebound for another chance to score. After a missed three-pointer, BSC junior Colin Henry rebounded the ball and Kegarise made a layup with 13 seconds left to put the Panthers up 65-60. Millsaps turned the ball over after that on a steal by Thomas, sealing the win for BSC.

Richards led all players with 33 points on 14-20 shooting, and also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. Thomas recorded 11 points and four steals and junior Schylar Freeman scored nine points off the bench.

BSC tied its season-low field goal percentage, hitting 24-53 (.453), and shot a season-low 2-13 (.154) from three-point range. The Panthers hit 15-20 (.750) from the free throw line.

Millsaps shot 22-53 (.415) overall, 4-16 (.250) from long range, and 12-15 (.800) from the line.

The Panthers won the rebounding battle, 30-28, while turning the ball over 11 times, three less than the Majors, for a season-low.

BSC returns home this Monday, Dec. 17, facing Rust College at 7 p.m. in Bill Battle Coliseum. It will be the first home game for the Panthers since Nov. 17.