The Oglethorpe men's basketball team went up against an outstanding Methodist team on Saturday night at the Lon Varnell Classic in Sewanee, Tennessee, and while the Stormy Petrels hung tough for much of the contest, the Monarchs pulled away in the end for an 80-66 victory. The loss dropped the Petrels to 1-1 on the young season, headed into another Lon Varnell Classic game against Washington and Lee on Sunday.
The Petrels got 18 points from sophomore guard Justin Hughes off the bench on 6-of-10 from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range off, while junior forward Will Perry added 15 points on 7-of-11 from the field, senior guard Chris Lawrence scored 12 points on 3-of-8 from distance, and freshman forward Will Koch recorded 10 points off the bench. None of it was enough to keep up with Methodist, though, as the Monarchs shot 52 percent from the field overall, 41 percent from three-point range, and 79 percent from the free throw line. Hughes and Koch helped the Petrels to outscore the Monarchs 28-14 off the bench, but Methodist outrebounded the Petrels 40-28 and outscored Oglethorpe 12-4 on the fast break.
Methodist got off to a big lead from the outset, scoring the first seven points of the game over the opening 1:30. After a couple Oglethorpe baskets, the Monarchs continued on a 19-4 run over four minutes to push out to their largest lead of the contest, 28-9, with 9:54 still left in the opening half. Oglethorpe scored seven consecutive points to work their way back to within 12 points, 28-16, with 8:17 remaining. After Methodist pushed their advantage back up to 17 points, the Petrels continued to fight back from the early deficit, going on a 15-3 run to pull to within five points, 34-28, with 4:08 on the clock in the first half. The Monarchs were able to pad their lead a bit at the end of the period, but Oglethorpe was in OK shape, down just 46-39 at the break after being down by as many as 19 points in the half.
The Monarchs went on a 9-1 to start the second half, putting themselves back up by 15 points, 55-40, with 15:11 remaining in the contest. Methodist pushed the lead as high as 18 points with 8:57 remaining, but Oglethorpe again made a comeback. They embarked on a 14-4 run over a 4:45 stretch to make the score 70-62 with 3:51 on the clock, giving themselves a chance. It wasn't meant to be, though, as Methodist answered with an 8-0 run to put the game away.
"I thought we came out sluggish and dug ourselves a huge hole," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "We did battle back and got back into it, but just had too many turnovers, mental mistakes, and missed free throws to ever get over the hump. This team has a lot of potential, but tonight showed we have a long way to go."
The Petrels will return to Sewanee's Juhan Gymnasium on Sunday for the final day of the Lon Varnell Classic. They'll take on Washington and Lee at 2 p.m. Eastern. The Generals fell 96-79 to hosts Sewanee in Saturday evening's first contest.