The Oglethorpe men's basketball team played very well out of the gate Tuesday night at Dorough Field House in the annual matchup with their crosstown rival Emory. However, the visiting Eagles came back in the second half, outscoring the Stormy Petrels 43-39 over the final 20 minutes to pull out an 88-82 victory. The result dropped the Petrels to 7-5 headed into the bulk of the SAA season.
The Petrels ran out to a a big lead early in the contest. They started on a 15-5 run over the opening four minutes of the game. Back-to-back 3-pointers from senior guard Connor Smith gave Oglethorpe their 10-point edge with 16:24 on the clock in the opening period. After an Emory run, the Petrels then scored nine consecutive points to make it a 26-14 lead with 11:15 until the halftime break. Oglethorpe extended their lead to a game-high 13 points, 39-26, on a layup from junior forward Will Perry with 7:27 to go in the half. From there, however, it was the Eagles going on a 19-4 stretch to take a 45-43 lead at the break.
In the second half, the two teams went back and forth, with the Petrels regaining a lead as large as four points, 60-56, with 13:24 to play. However, Emory went on a 21-9 run to turn the game back in their favor, 77-69, with 4:54 remaining. Oglethorpe got it as close as three points a couple times, including with less than 40 seconds remaining. However, the Eagles were able to hit a game-clinching 3-pointer with 16 seconds left.
Perry once again led the team with 20 points and seven rebounds on 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Freshman guard Lane Foster enjoyed an excellent game, scoring 13 points on 4-of-8 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe while passing out four assists and swiping three steals. Sophomore forward Justin Hughes had another stellar game, scoring 17 points on 6-of-9 from the field overall and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Both teams shot 47 percent from the field, while the Petrels sank 47 percent of their 3-point attempts to Emory's 30 percent. Emory controlled the glass, though, outrebounding the Petrels 44-29 overall and 15-4 on the offensive glass. Emory outscored the Petrels 21-5 in second chance points and 44-28 in the paint.
"That's a really great team we played tonight," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "I thought that we played well overall, but a few mental mistakes and about a three-or-four-minute stretch where they beat us on the offensive glass were the differences in the game. They made some big shots down the stretch, as well, so credit goes to them. We went toe-to-toe with a heavyweight, so I know we can play with anybody in our league. And that's all we are focused on, at this point; league play. We have a big road weekend coming up, so we will put this game behind us and start focusing on that."
The Petrels will travel to Conway, Arkansas, to take on Hendrix Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern, then will continue to Memphis, Tennessee, for a Sunday showdown with Rhodes at 4 p.m.