The Oglethorpe men's basketball team led by as many as 25 points in the first half Friday night at Dorough Field House, but found themselves in overtime needing a basket on their final possession just to stay alive. They got that basket on a driving layup by sophomore guard Lane Foster with 2.1 seconds left, then pulled out to an eight-point lead in the second overtime period en route to a 93-90 win over the Birmingham-Southern Panthers.
With the win, the Stormy Petrels improved to 12-9 overall and 6-4 in SAA play. That put them in third place by themselves, two games behind second-place Berry and a game ahead of a fourth-place tie between Sewanee and Hendrix.
The Petrels held a slim lead down the stretch in the second half, for the most part, and they led 64-63 with 1:30 to go. Senior center Tom Inungu scored and got fouled with 23 seconds remaining, but missed his free throw, leaving the Petrels with a 66-63 lead. A three-point play at the other end tied the score with 17 seconds left, and the Petrels couldn't hit the potential game-winning shot, forcing the game to overtime.
In the first extra period, the teams went back and forth for the first four minutes. The score was tied 73-73 with a minute left, but Birmingham-Southern hit a couple free throws to take the lead, then got a stop at the other end with 20 seconds left, forcing Oglethorpe to foul. A couple of made free throws put the visitors up 77-73, but Foster drove to the basket, scored and got fouled with 12 seconds on the clock. He completed the three-point play to put the Petrels behind by a single point. Birmingham-Southern missed one of their two free throws at the other end, setting the stage for Foster to score on a drive to the basket with just two seconds remaining, tying the game back up.
In double overtime, Oglethorpe outscored Birmingham-Southern 10-2 over the opening four minutes to take a commanding 88-80 lead with less than a minute left. The Panthers made a couple of 3-pointers and got it to within three, 91-88, with 11 seconds left. Oglethorpe freshman guard Carlos Sone made two free throws to give Oglethorpe a five-point edge with under nine seconds left, though, and they hung on from there.
The Petrels used a 26-4 run over 9:20 in the first half to blaze out to a 43-18 lead with 2:50 remaining until halftime. They shot 48.4 percent from the field and were 9-of-17 from 3-point range in the opening half of play while holding Birmingham-Southern to 32.3 percent over the opening 20 minutes.
The second half proved to be just the opposite, though, as the Panthers opened it on a 23-8 run through the 10:10 mark. The visitors tied it up at 57-all with 6:05 left, then took a 59-58 lead with five minutes left. The Petrels took the lead back, but Birmingham-Southern remained close enough to force overtime at the end. The visitors shot 46.4 percent from the field in the second half, making 5 of 11 three-pointers and all nine of their free-throw attempts. They also held Oglethorpe to 30.4 percent from the field and 1-for-7 from distance for the period.
Inungu finished with 23 points on 7-of-10 from the field and 11 rebounds. Perry scored 19 points in the first half on 4-of-6 three-point shooting and finished with 24 and six rebounds. Foster added 20 points on 6-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
"Obviously, this was a tale of two halves," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "We played about as well as we can in the first half, let our guard down and let them back in it in the second half. I don't like blowing a big lead, obviously, but once they tied it up, I thought we regained our composure and made some big plays. We were fortunate enough to get the win, and we're happy to have been able to pull this one out."
The Petrels welcome Millsaps to Dorough Field House at 3 p.m. on Sunday before heading to Danville, Kentucky, to take on Centre at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, and to Tennessee to go against Sewanee at 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 10.