MT. BERRY, Ga. (CentreColonels.com) – The Centre men's basketball team tallied 57 first-half points en route to an 85-69 victory over host Berry in a Southern Athletic Association (SAA) contest on Sunday afternoon at the Cage Center.
The Colonels win their third straight game to boost their records to 7-5 overall and 3-0 in SAA action, while the Vikings drop to 4-10 on the season and 0-3 in conference play.
With the Colonels holding an 8-5 advantage, Centre scored seven straight points capped by a layup by freshman guard Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) to put Centre on top 15-5 with 15:10 showing on the clock.
The Vikings minimized the deficit to 17-11, when the Colonels answered with an 11-2 run highlighted by a dunk and 3-pointer by freshman forward Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) to give Centre a 28-13 lead at the 8:57 mark of the first half.
After a pair of Berry free throws on the other end, the Colonels used a 14-5 surge keyed by six points by freshman guard Art Walker (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) to help Centre take a 42-18 lead with just under four minutes to play in the period.
Later in the half, the Colonels scored 13 straight points, including five from Sine to gain their largest advantage of the afternoon of 34 points at 57-23 with 51 seconds remaining in the first half.
Centre would take a 57-26 lead into the break.
The Vikings gained the momentum to start the second half, using a 22-6 run to cut the Colonels' advantage to 63-48 with 11:47 to play in the contest.
Walker connected on three free throw attempts to widen the Centre lead to 66-48, before Berry responded with six straight points to shrink the margin to 12 points at 66-54 with just under seven minutes remaining.
That is as close as the Vikings would come, as the Colonels built their lead back to as many as 19 points before coming away with the 85-69 conference triumph.
Bates led four Colonels in double-figures with 16 points off the bench, making 5-of-6 field goals, 1-of-2 3-pointers and 5-of-7 free throws to go with five rebounds and three blocks.
Sine and Walker added 13 markers apiece, while Griffin chipped in 12 points for Centre. Sine was 3-of-9 from behind the arc and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, and Walker connected on 8-of-9 free throws in the victory. Griffin was 5-of-11 from the field including 2-of-6 from long range.
Senior guard Matt Gump (Bellefontaine, Ohio) recorded seven points, four rebounds and a game-high five assists for Centre.
Cole DenBesten dropped in a game-high 22 points, followed by Cory Johnson with 13 points and Marc McLendon with 10 markers.
Centre outshot Berry 46.9 percent (23-of-49) to 45.1 percent (23-of-51) from the field and 74.4 percent (29-of-39) to 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from the free throw line. The Colonels also connected on 10-of-27 shots from downtown, good for 37.9 percent compared to the Vikings' seven makes from behind the arc.
Centre outrebounded Berry 38-29 in the victory and held advantages of 17-11 in points off turnovers and 41-33 in bench points in the game in which the Colonels never trailed.
Centre returns to Danville to face Rhodes (6-7, 3-0) on Friday, Jan. 13 in a battle of the two remaining unbeaten teams in SAA action. Tip off is slated for 8 p.m. ET from Alumni Gymnasium.