BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern men's basketball team overcame a slow first half to take down the Berry College Vikings in a 75-70 thriller on Friday night.
The game was a story of two totally different halves for the Panthers. BSC could not seem to find a basket in the first half, falling down 17-4 early and entering the intermission down 37-31. But the team came out in the second half and could not seem to miss.
A dismal 29.4 percent from the field and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, the Panthers lit it up in final 20, improving to 51.9 percent from the field and hitting nine of their next 16 three-pointers.
And the three-pointer would prove to be the catalyst for the Panthers offense in the second half. It was a three from junior guard Rich Yancey (Newnan, Ga./The Heritage School) that gave BSC its first lead of the game, 47-45, with 16:17 to play and a critical three-point jumper from sophomore guard Calvin Bak (Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals HS) that put the Panthers on top 72-69 with 1:14 to play.
In between those two pivotal moments from Yancey and Bak, the Panthers would increase its lead to as high as 14 points before the Vikings stormed back to tie it up 69-69 with just under two minutes left.
Bak's go-ahead three-pointer and a few crucial free throws by Harrison Deneka (Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers HS) and Matty Rudak (Augustow, Poland/Millbrook School) would seal the 75-70 win for the Panthers in the end.
Bak, BSC's leading scorer, scored all 12 of his points from beyond the arch. Deneka once again led the Panthers in rebounds with eight, and Rudak was a force on the defensive end with a game-high five blocks.
With the win, Birmingham-Southern improves to 7-10 overall and 4-2 in the Southern Athletic Association. The Panthers remain at home for their next contest against the Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels on Sunday, January 21. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 3 p.m.