By J.T. Mitchell
DANVILLE, Ky. – Despite shooting a solid 54 percent from the field, the Sewanee men’s basketball team fell short on Saturday, losing 76-64 against Centre College.
The Tigers went into the game sitting one game behind the Colonels in the SAA standings, holding the tiebreaker with a 70-63 win in the two teams’ first matchup. A win would mean a regular season championship and home-court advantage in the conference tournament.
After the Colonels started hot with a 7-2 run, the Tigers answered back with a run of their own, taking control of the first half. Forward Cam Caldwell (C’19) hit a three-pointer to give his team a 34-25 lead, the biggest lead they would see all day, with 2:40 remaining in the period. After allowing Centre to cut the deficit to six, the Tigers went into the locker room holding a 36-30 lead.
The Colonels immediately regained the lead after opening the second half with an 8-0 run. The Tigers kept fighting back, tying the game at 55-55 with 7:12 left to go.
“We continued to fight and played hard,” forward Adrian Thomas (C’20) commented. “That’s what we are known for in our conference.”
Sewanee ran out of gas as Centre managed to put together a promising 66-57 lead after some huge baskets from Art Walker and Tucker Sine. The Colonels would manage to hold off the Tigers in the final four minutes to secure a 76-64 victory.
Bench points and turnovers would be the keys to the game. The Tigers turned the ball over six more times than the Colonels, and Centre’s bench outscored Sewanee’s 36 to eight.
For Sewanee, Thomas led all scorers with 26 points and 16 rebounds, while Luke Smith (C’21) added 20 points and two steals. Jacob Bates, a sophomore forward, led Centre with 20 points.
The Tigers will now enter the 2018 SAA tournament as the two-seed, but they are looking to make a huge postseason run.
“It would have been nice to host the tournament, but we can’t live in the past,” guard Hunter Buescher (C’19) said. “I think Coach [Mick] Hedgepeth and [Assistant] Coach [Brian] Emerson will have a good game plan and have us ready to make a run in the tourney.”
Sewanee now stands at 14-10 overall (10-4 in the SAA) and will open the tournament against the seventh-seed, Hendrix College, on Friday, February 23 in Danville, Ky.