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Colonels Fall at the Buzzer to Birmingham Southern 91-89

Colonels Fall at the Buzzer to Birmingham Southern 91-89

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CentreColonels.com) – With the score knotted at 89-89 in the closing seconds of a Southern Athletic Association (SAA) contest between Centre and Birmingham Southern on Friday night, a Chris Graham putback as time expired gave the Panthers a 91-89 victory over the visiting Colonels at Bill Battle Coliseum.

Centre (8-7, 4-2 SAA) drops its second straight game by a margin of two points, while Birmingham Southern (6-9, 4-2 SAA) earned its third straight triumph.

The Colonels held a slim 15-14 advantage in the first half before using a 12-3 run highlighted by five points by freshman guard Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) to give Centre a 27-17 lead with 11:11 remaining in the period.

Centre build its edge to as many as 12 at 35-23 after a layup by freshman forward Jakob Spitzer (Atlanta, Ga.) at the 8:53 mark of the first half.

The Panthers cut the Colonels' lead to eight points at the break at 47-39 before taking the momentum into the second half, opening the stanza with a 9-4 surge to shrink the Centre advantage to 51-48 just under three minutes into the period.

The Colonels pushed their lead back to eight at 58-50, but Birmingham Southern would answer by cutting the Centre edge to just one at 63-62 midway through the half.

A back-and-forth affair for the final 10 minutes of action, neither team was able to gain a lead larger than six points.

All tied up at 87-87 with a minute remaining, senior guard Matt Gump (Bellefontaine, Ohio) connected on a jump shot to put the Colonels on top 89-87.

Birmingham Southern's Ian Thom made a layup on the other end to knot the contest at 89-89 with 33 ticks showing on the clock, before a pair of Centre missed free throws gave the Panthers possession in the final seconds of action.

Thom would miss a jumper in the closing seconds, before Graham's offensive board and tip-in sealed the win for the defending SAA champions.

Sophomore guard Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) paced five Colonels in double-figures with 17 points, connecting on 6-of-9 field goals, 3-of-6 3-pointers and 2-of-2 free throws.

Freshman guard Bailey Rakes (Mt. Washington, Ky.) added 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc to go with 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.

Sophomore guard Jarod Griffin (Lexington, Ky.) and Ayers tallied 13 points apiece, while Spitzer chipped in 10 markers. Griffin finished 4-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 from long range and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Ayers was 5-of-7 on field goals, including 2-of-2 from downtown while Spizer shot 4-of-5 from the field with four rebounds.

Freshman forward Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) pulled down a team-high six rebounds to go with nine points on the night.

Thom finished with a game-high 21 points for the Panthers, followed by Graham with 17 points and a game-high seven boards off the bench.

Both teams had success shooting the ball, as the Colonels were 58.5 percent (31-of-53) on field goals, 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from behind the arc and 68.2 percent (15-of-22) from the charity stripe, while the Panthers shot 51.0 percent (26-of-51) from the field, 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from long range and 86.1 percent (31-of-36) from the free throw line.

Birmingham Southern outrebounded Centre 28-26 and held advantages of 13-8 in second chance points, 34-30 in points in the paint and 31-28 in bench points, while the Colonels finished with an 18-15 edge in points off turnovers.

The Panthers' only lead came with the final margin, despite the game featuring four ties.

Centre looks to snap its two-game skid in another SAA road matchup on Sunday afternoon in Jackson, Miss. against Millsaps at 2 p.m. CT at the Hangar Dome.