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Ayers Drops in 33 to Lead Colonels to Thrilling 106-100 Overtime Victory over Rhodes

Ayers Drops in 33 to Lead Colonels to Thrilling 106-100 Overtime Victory over Rhodes

DANVILLE, Ky. (CentreColonels.com) – Freshman guard Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) netted a career-high 33 points, 25 coming in the second half and overtime to pace the Centre men's basketball team to a thrilling 106-100 overtime triumph over Rhodes on Friday night in front of a raucous crowd at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Colonels win their fourth straight game to boost their records to 8-5 overall and 4-0 in SAA play, while the Lynx move to 6-8 and 3-1, respectively.

Rhodes built its lead to 14 heading into halftime at 55-41, draining nine 3-pointers and shooting a total of 45.7 percent (21-of-46) in the opening stanza.  

The Lynx would hold a 12-point edge at 78-66 midway through the second half, when Centre responded with a 16-5 run, with 15 of those points coming from freshmen, as the Colonels pulled within one point at 83-82 with 5:30 to play in the half. Ayers and freshman forward Jakob Spitzer (Atlanta, Ga.) each tallied six points during the surge, while freshman forward Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) added three markers. 

Rhodes' Andrew Lowrie knocked down a 3-pointer on the other end to push the Lynx lead to 86-82, before the Colonels would score six of the next eight points, capped by a pair of Ayers free throws to knot the game at 88-88 with 1:29 showing on the clock.

Two Rhodes free throws gave the Lynx a 90-88 advantage in the final minute of action, when Ayers drove the lane and scooped a layup over the outstretched arm of 6-9 Ian Harrison, dropping it in off the glass to even the contest at 90-90 with four seconds remaining.

Rhodes' JJ Weir's jumper on the other end was off the mark, sending the battle of the two unbeaten teams in the SAA into a bonus period.

The Colonels would take their first lead of the night in overtime, scoring the first four points of the extra frame when Ayers drained a couple of free throws and sophomore guard Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) connected on a layup to put Centre on top 94-90.

Ayers would record the next six consecutive points for the Colonels, helping Centre gain a 100-96 lead with 1:28 to play in the bonus period.

Daniel Darst made the front end of a two free throws to shrink the Colonels' advantage to 100-97, when Sine answered with two made shots from the charity stripe on the other end to give Centre a 102-97 edge.

Rhodes' Anesu Nyawata drilled a 3-pointer for the Lynx with 24 ticks to play to minimize the deficit to 102-100, however Ayers and senior guard Matt Gump (Bellefontaine, Ohio) each were 2-of-2 from the free throw line down the stretch to extend Centre's lead to its largest advantage of the game at 106-100.

Ayers topped his previous career-high of 17 points set in the season opener at Maryville (Tenn.). The freshman made 9-of-14 field goals and was 15-of-17 on free throws for the Colonels to go with a game-high six assists, four rebounds and three steals. 

Ayers, Bates and Spitzer combined for a total of 77 of Centre's 106 points, as Spitzer tallied 23 points and Bates added 21 markers off the bench. Both figures represent career-highs for the freshmen big men.

Spitzer was 11-of-13 from the field in the win, while Bates connected on 9-of-12 field goals to go with nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

Sine finished with his first career double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.

Bryce Berry led the Lynx with 16 points, followed by Harrison with 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

Although Centre was just 1-of-13 from behind the arc and committed 27 turnovers to Rhodes, the Colonels shot 53.8 percent (35-of-56) from the field and 76.1 percent (35-of-46) from the charity stripe in the victory.

Centre held advantages of 49-45 in rebounding, 66-42 in points in the paint, 30-0 in fast break points and 65-58 in bench points. The Lynx capitalized on the Colonels' miscues, finishing with a 30-15 edge in points off turnovers while also outscoring Centre 24-10 in second chance points.

The Colonels assisted on 24 of 35 made field goals.

Centre eclipsed 100 points for the first time since a 104-102 double-overtime loss to Rhodes in 2002. The last time the Colonels scored at least 100 points in a victory was in a 102-96 win over Asbury in 2000. Centre's 106 points are the most for the Colonels since a 107-58 triumph over Trinity (Texas) in 1993.

Centre is back in action on Sunday afternoon hosting Hendrix in an SAA matinee at 2 p.m. ET at Alumni Gymnasium. The Warriors defeated Sewanee 67-57 on Friday night in Tennessee.