Panthers drop SAA semifinal thriller to Oglethorpe, 72-70

Panthers drop SAA semifinal thriller to Oglethorpe, 72-70

DANVILLE, Ky.—Holding junior Larry Thomas, the league's leading scorer, to a season-low seven points, third-seeded Oglethorpe upset second-seeded Birmingham-Southern 72-70 in the semifinal round of the Southern Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championship, Saturday evening at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

The Panthers fall to 17-10, while the Stormy Petrels move to 21-6.

After BSC stormed out to an 8-2 lead to open the game, OU came back to tie it up 8-8 and the rest of the half was close, with BSC leading most of the time but never by more than five. The Panthers led 34-32 at the half.

BSC led for the first 13 minutes of the second half until a three-pointer by Connor Smith at the 7-minute mark put the Petrels up 53-52. The teams traded points the rest of the way, until Oglethorpe was able to pull out to a 69-64 lead with 56 seconds left in the game. After a BSC time out, senior Griffin Schamp made a layup to cut it to 69-66, and the Panthers sent Jordan Kinney to the free throw line, where he hit one of two to put OU up 70-66. BSC grabbed the defensive rebound, and Schamp made another layup to cut it to 70-68 with 21 seconds remaining. Another time out allowed BSC to set up its defense, and Thomas grabbed a steal and was fouled. He hit both free throws, tying things up 70-70 with 15 seconds left to play. The Petrels drove and scored on a mid-range jumper by Tyler Courson, leaving only two seconds on the clock. BSC called another time out, but was unable to get a shot off before time expired.

Schamp led BSC with 19 points in his final appearance as a Panther, shooting 6-10 from the field and 7-8 at the free throw line. Senior Jason Holland and freshman Ian Thom led with four rebounds each. Sophomore Ross Welch also added 10 points on 4-8 shooting. Thomas, who was averaging nearly 20 points a game this season, was held to seven points, going 2-9 from the field and 1-5 from three-point range.

The Petrels shot over 51 percent from the field and exactly 50 percent (9-18) from three-point range, while the Panthers hit 43.6 percent from the field and only 22.7 percent (5-22) from long range, the second-lowest three-point percentage of the season. OU also out-rebounded BSC 32-22, which was the Panthers' second-lowest rebounding total of the season. The Panthers held the advantage in turnovers, though, committing only nine to OU's 19.