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Colonels throttle Panthers in second half, win fifth in a row

Colonels throttle Panthers in second half, win fifth in a row

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Centre men's basketball kept its hot streak going Friday night, turning a close contest into a second-half rout against Birmingham Southern, 91-57, in a crucial Southern Athletic Association (SAA) meeting.

After defeating BSC (9-12, 6-4 SAA) in a narrow 75-71 decision earlier this season, the Colonels (13-7, 8-2) left little to doubt in the rematch, outscoring the Panthers 46-20 across the final 20 minutes.

Six individuals tallied double figures for the visiting team, led by 17 points from sophomore Bailey Rakes' (Mt. Washington, Ky.), who turned in an 8-for-10 shooting performance.

The Colonels, a team averaging nearly 100 points per game over their last four victories, wasted little time warming up in the first period Friday night.

Centre raced out to a 28-15 lead, knocking down 13 of its first 21 shots to grab a 13-point edge.

BSC responded with its best stretch of the half, pulling within 36-33 by the under-four media timeout, thanks in part to three 3-pointers from sharpshooting Calvin Bak.

Before the halftime horn sounded, though, the Colonels responded with a 9-4 spurt to carry a 45-37 advantage into the locker rooms.

Rakes scored 10 of his 17 points for Centre in the opening half, helping the team finish an even 50 percent (17-34) overall.

Three early 3-pointers helped the Colonels jump out to their biggest lead yet, 60-46, by the first media break of the second half.

That stoppage did little to slow Centre's hot hand, as back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Dawson Crump (Bowling Green, Ky.) and junior Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) made it 66-48 and forced a BSC timeout minutes later.

Finally, a 10-0 run midway through the period gave Centre a commanding 78-52 lead, and in seemingly the blink of an eye the Colonels had all but sealed the victory.

Centre finished above 50 percent shooting for the fourth game in a row, knocking down 35 of 67 (52.2%) overall and 13 of 32 (40.6%) from beyond the arc.

Sine totaled 15 points, followed by 12 from classmate Jarod Griffin (Lexington, Ky.). Crump and sophomores Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) and Art Walker (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) also finished in double digits.

Bates hauled in nine rebounds for the third game in a row, and is now averaging 9.3 boards per contest since the start of the New Year. He helped Centre out-rebound BSC by a sizeable 45-30 margin.

Griffin and sophomore Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) co-led Centre with four assists, and as a team the Colonels matched a season low with only five turnovers.

Defensively, Centre held BSC to a mere 28 percent (7-25) shooting in the second half, including just 1-for-10 from 3-point range.

The Colonels and Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels now stand atop the SAA standings with identical 8-2 records, although Oglethorpe has a home win over Centre under its belt. The two sides meet again Feb. 11 in Alumni Gymnasium.

Centre next faces Millsaps (4-6 SAA), which defeated Sewanee (7-3) Friday night to bump the Tigers off of their claim to a first-place tie. The Majors have won three in a row, and welcome the Colonels Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in Jackson, Miss.