DANVILLE, Ky. – Centre handed No. 16 Birmingham-Southern its first loss of the season as the Colonels never trailed on the way to a 72-65 victory Friday.
Senior forward Greg Ross scored nine points in the first five minutes and went on to finish with game highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds. That hot start was enough to get Centre out to an early 14-7 lead, and the Colonels would keep a comfortable lead throughout much of the first half.
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Centre’s biggest lead of the game came when Jeff Mullaney made a jumper to go up 25-13 at the 9:00 mark, and the Colonels would keep the margin in that vicinity for the rest of the half before going to the break with a 38-28 lead.
The Panthers, who came to the contest averaging 90.1 points per game and shooting 46 percent from outside, finally made their run early in the second half when 3-pointers by Kevin Kegarise and Blaise White keyed a 12-2 surge that tied the game at 42.
Coming out of a time out with 13 minutes to play, Centre’s Matt Griggs buried a 3-pointer that started a 14-4 run for Centre. By the time Chris Taylor capped the run with a jumper at the 7:00 mark, the Colonels would be back in control with a 10-point lead at 60-50.
Birmingham Southern threatened one last time when baskets by Kegarise and Caleb Lee cut the lead to six with 2:33 to play, but Collin Lopez scored on consecutive possessions to put the game out of reach at 67-57.
Lopez went on to finish with 12 points and was joined in double figures by Griggs and Jeff Mullaney. Zac Richards led Birmingham-Southern with 15 points while Jasen Jonus added 14.
The Colonels shot 56 percent (25-of-45) from the field to 46 percent (26-of-57) for Birmingham Southern, and shot 44 percent (8-of-18) from outside while holding the Panthers to a 28 percent (5-of-18) performance. Birmingham Southern held a 34-28 edge on the glass, and both teams turned the ball over 10 times.
With the win, Centre improves to 5-3 overall with a 2-1 record in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference while Birmingham-Southern drops to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the league. The Colonels are back in action again Sunday when they host Oglethorpe.