The men's basketball team lost in heartbreaking fashion to the No. 19 ranked team in the nation on Saturday evening when Birmingham-Southern's Larry Thomas hit a three-pointer as time expired to lift the Panthers to a 63-62 win on Pinholster Court. The Petrels came up empty on two one-and-one opportunities at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to open the door for Southern's buzzer-beating heroics.
Birmingham entered the contest 5-0 on the season and ranked No. 19 overall by D3hoops.com. They had won their last 4 contests by an average of 30 points before Oglethorpe gave them everything they had. The back-breaking three-ball at the buzzer by Thomas was his eighth of the day and it gave Birmingham their first lead of the game since there was 10:36 to play in the first half.
The Petrels executed their game plan to precision but were undone by the late missed free throws and the long-distance shooting heroics of Thomas, just a freshman out of Langston Hughes High School in Atlanta. Oglethorpe led 53-42 with 12:36 to play but got outscored 21-9 down the stretch on their way to the gut-wrenching loss.
Andrew Steioff turned in one of the most spirited performances of his career in pouring in a team-high 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field. He also grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds and swatted 4 Panther shot attempts. Junior Alec Pitts added 15 points including some difficult three-point conversions along the way. The Petrels shot 47.1% from the field and outrebounded the Panthers 31-26 but could not overcome the two missed chances at the free throw line late.
Pitts had a chance to extend the lead from 62-60 with 31 ticks left but his shot from the charity stripe came off long and the Panthers earned a shot to tie it. Sam Purdy stepped in to make a steal on the ensuing possession and got fouled with 14 seconds left. Purdy's one-and-one free throw attempt also hit the back iron and set up the wild finish. With players scrambling to cover their men, the Panthers Zac Richards found Thomas open with 2 seconds left and Thomas rose and drilled the game-winner from 23 feet on the right wing as the final horn sounded.
The Petrels are now 3-4 on the season and will have little chance to lick their wounds before facing the nations No. 10 ranked team, Emory University, on Pinholster Court this Monday at 7:00 p.m.