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Ayers fuels huge second-half comeback as Colonels defeat Majors, 65-62

Ayers fuels huge second-half comeback as Colonels defeat Majors, 65-62

JACKSON, Miss. – Perry Ayers scored 10 in a row down the stretch and the Centre men's basketball overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat Millsaps, 65-62, Sunday in Southern Athletic Association (SAA) action.

Down 58-52 with just minutes left, Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) went on his own 8-0 run to make it 60-58. Although the Majors answered with consecutive baskets, Ayers sank two free throws to knot the game at 62-62 with 60 seconds left.

Following a Millsaps turnover, sophomore Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) hit what would become the game-winning jumper in the paint to secure an improbable comeback victory.  

The Colonels' win moves their streak to six in a row, and gives them a 14-7 overall record and 9-2 mark in-conference. Millsaps, winners of three straight entering the day, fall to 7-15 (4-7 SAA).

It took more than three minutes for either team to score, but the Majors managed to jump out to an early 10-3 advantage. The hosts finished the low-scoring first half strong, as well, using a 10-4 stretch to carry a 29-24 edge into the break.

Millsaps held Centre to just 8-for-28 shooting in the opening period and 3-for-14 from 3-point range.

Less than five minutes into the second half the Majors' lead swelled to 16 at 44-28, their largest of the game. Their lead, plus a struggling Centre attack, seemed to signal the end of the Colonels' winning streak.

But the Colonels would punch back, moving within eight at 56-48 following an Ayers layup near the six-minute mark.

Ayers wasn't finished. He followed a pair of free throws with a traditional 3-point play – and then a corner 3-pointer, giving Centre its first lead since the first half.

His aforementioned 10-point stretch set the table for Bates' game-winner. Freshman Dawson Crump (Bowling Green, Ky.) iced the game with a free throw.

Ayers led Centre with 19 points – 14 coming in the second half – and added five rebounds and two assists.

Bates turned in a 15-point, 13-board double-double, setting a career-high in rebounds. He also had five assists and a pair of steals.

Junior Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) had 13 points and six rebounds, and Crump totaled 10 points off the bench.

Although they didn't keep up with their recent streak of shooting above 50 percent as a team, the Colonels managed to finish at 38 percent after an 11-for-22 second half.

With Oglethorpe falling against Rhodes today, the Colonels are now in sole possession of first place in the SAA. 

Centre closes the regular season with three straight games inside Alumni Gymnasium. The Colonels next face Berry Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET., going for a series sweep after defeating the Vikings back on Jan. 12, 84-61.