Panthers return home to defeat Rust, 102-89

Larry Thomas (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)
Larry Thomas (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—With five players scoring in double figures, the Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team returned home for the first time in a month and defeated Rust College, 102-89, Monday evening in Bill Battle Coliseum.

The Panthers move to 6-2, while the Bearcats fall to 7-6.

Rust scored the first basket of the game in what would turn out to be its only lead of the game. BSC tied it up and pulled ahead quickly, although the Bearcats cut the Panther lead to one six times in a row before BSC scored eight straight points to pull up by nine, 23-14, at the 11:09 mark of the first half. Rust cut it to five twice after that before the Panthers achieved a double-digit lead at the 5:39 mark on a three-pointer from sophomore Brendan Marschner. BSC went up by as much as 18, twice, before taking a 59-44 lead into the halftime break.

BSC kept its comfortable lead for most of the second half, although the Bearcats were able to cut it to eight, 85-77, with 7:50 left to play. The Panthers stretched the lead back out to 16, however, before eventually winning by 13, 102-89.

Sophomore Larry Thomas led the Panthers with 21 points, followed by freshman Ross Welch with 17 on 6-9 shooting, and senior Blaise White with 16 points. Senior Zac Richards recorded 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the year and eighth-straight game scoring in double digits. Junior Colin Henry also had 10 points, and junior Jason Holland led with seven assists.

For Rust, Larry Veasley led all players with 31 points and 14 rebounds, followed by Kwahmere Gredic with 16 points.

Rebounding was nearly even at 38-37 in favor of the Bearcats, and each team turned the ball over 18 times.

BSC shot 31-59 (.525) from the field and 14-34 (.412) from three-point range, and was 26-38 (.684) at the free throw line. Rust shot 34-67 (.507) overall, 8-22 (.364) from beyond the arc, and 13-24 (.542) at the line. There were 51 total fouls called and the teams combined to go to the line 62 times.

The Panthers are back in action at the Maryville Tournament in Maryville, Tenn., Dec. 29 and 30, facing Guilford and the host Scots.