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Second Half Surge Lifts Colonels to 75-62 Triumph over Panthers

Second Half Surge Lifts Colonels to 75-62 Triumph over Panthers

DANVILLE, Ky. (CentreColonels.com) – The Centre men's basketball team outscored Birmingham Southern 45-29 in the second half en route to a 75-62 win over the defending Southern Athletic Association (SAA) champions on Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Colonels take sole possession of first place in the SAA with the victory, boosting their records to 10-7 overall and 6-2 in conference play, while the Panthers fall to 9-10 on the season and 5-3 in league action.

Trailing by as many as 10 in the first half, Centre was able to shrink the Birmingham Southern lead to three points at the break at 33-30.

Ian Thom put the Panthers ahead 35-30 with a jumper to open the second period, before the Colonels answered with a 9-0 run keyed by five points from sophomore guard Jarod Griffin (Lexington, Ky.) to give Centre a 39-35 edge at the 16:47 mark of the half.

Later in the half, Birmingham Southern was able to retake the lead at 50-48 with 8:32 remaining in the contest, when the Colonels responded with a 20-4 spurt including seven points from Griffin to put Centre on top 68-54 with just over two minutes remaining. Senior guard Matt Gump (Bellefontaine, Ohio) added five markers during the surge.

The Colonels built their lead to as many as 15 points at 75-60 following a Griffin free throw with 30 ticks showing on the game clock.

After shooting 34.4 percent (11-of-32) from the field, including a 16.7 percent (2-of-12) clip from behind the arc, Centre connected on 55.6 percent (15-of-27) of field goals and 57.1 percent (4-of-7) of 3-pointers in the second half.

Griffin paced all players with 20 points, 18 of which came in the second frame. The sophomore shot 6-of-9 from the field, 3-of-5 from long range and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.

Gump had 12 points to go with five rebounds in the game, sinking 4-of-4 free throws and 3-of-8 field goals.

Freshman guard Bailey Rakes (Mt. Washington, Ky.) contributed 11 markers on 4-of-9 shooting in addition to six boards.

Freshman guard Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) and sophomore guard Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) each dished out four assists in the victory, while Ayers chipped in eight points, as well.

Freshman forward Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) pulled down a team-high 10 boards to go with a game-high four blocked shots and six points for the Colonels.

SAA Player of the Week Harrison Deneka had another impressive performance for the Panthers, posting a double-double of 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Thom tallied 17 points for Birmingham Southern.

Centre finished 44.1 percent (26-of-59) from the field, 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from downtown and 68.0 percent (17-of-25) from the free throw line, while the Panthers were 41.4 percent (24-of-58) on field goals, 25.0 percent (6-of-24) from long range and 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from the charity stripe.

Birmingham Southern held a slim 38-37 rebounding edge in the game.

Centre dished out 16 assists while committing just eight turnovers in the win. The Colonels also held a 16-11 advantage in points off turnovers to go with a 23-11 advantage in bench points.

All told, the game featured three ties and nine lead changes.

Centre looks for its third straight victory on Sunday afternoon hosting Millsaps at 2 p.m. ET at Alumni Gymnasium. The Colonels topped the Majors 66-61 last Sunday in Jackson, Miss.