The Oglethorpe men's basketball team picked up a wire-to-wire 80-62 victory over No. 6 seed Millsaps Friday night at the SAA Tournament in Danville, Kentucky, and now finds themselves the highest remaining seed in the tournament after a wild quarterfinal Friday. The victory improved the third-seeded Stormy Petrels to 15-11 on the season, and gave them a semifinal matchup with No. 7 seed Hendrix on Saturday.
The Petrels began the game by jumping out to a 12-5 lead over the opening 4:30 of the game. Millsaps quickly got a couple of baskets back to shrink the Oglethorpe lead to three points, but the Petrels responded with a 13-5 run to stretch their advantage back out to 25-14 at the 8:35 mark of the first half. A 14-2 run after a couple more Millsaps baskets put Oglethorpe ahead by 20 points, 39-19, with 2:52 left until halftime. The Petrels led 41-23 at the break.
Oglethorpe began the second half by essentially putting the game out of reach. They scored the first nine points of the period and gave themselves their largest lead of the contest, a 50-23 advantage at the 17:34 mark of the second half. The Majors sliced that lead down to 20 points, 56-36, with 12:46 on the clock, but they would get no closer until it became a 19-point game, 67-48, with 5:38 remaining. At that point, Oglethorpe went on another mini-run to stretch it to 74-48 with 3:51 left, ending all hope for the Majors.
The Petrels were led by freshman forward Will Koch, who scored 19 points on 5-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range, marking a season-high in points and in 3-pointers made. He also chipped in three assists. Junior forward Will Perry added 18 points on 7-of-13 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 from the line. Junior center Tom Inungu scored 12 points on 4-of-5 from the field, passing out four assists.
The Petrels shot 50 percent for the game, sinking 43 percent of their 3-point attempts. By contrast, they held the Majors to just 35 percent from the field and 7-of-27 from 3-point range. The Petrels collected 14 assists on the evening, and only committed 11 turnovers. They outrebounded Millsaps 42-35.
"Tonight, we played the best we've played in about three or four weeks," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. "We put together a complete game in all facets: defensively, shooting the ball and rebounding. Millsaps was one of the hottest teams in the league; and they beat us soundly at our place the last time we played them. The guys came out ready to play today! We have a quick turnaround, though, so we don't have much time to enjoy this. Hendrix played great tonight, and I expect a battle tomorrow."
The Petrels, at No. 3, stand as the highest remaining seed in the tournament going into the semifinals after a wild day which saw eighth-seeded Berry knock off top-seeded tournament hosts Centre and No. 7 seed Hendrix beat No. 2 seed Sewanee. The Petrels will take on Hendrix at 6 p.m. in Saturday's second semifinal, while No. 5 seed Birmingham-Southern will play Berry in the first semifinal.