From Emory University Athletics
The 25th-ranked Emory University men's basketball survived a close call on Saturday night as the team battled from a seven-point deficit with 6:39 remaining in regulation before defeating the Birmingham Southern College 84-78 in overtime in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament. The victory propels Emory to the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive season. With the win, Emory (20-7) has now won 20 or more games in a season for the fifth time in school history. The loss snaps BSC's 19-game winning streak and puts a cap on a 23-7 season for the Panthers.
Emory will now face Augustana (Ill.) next Friday after the Vikings were 96-80 winners over Hope on Saturday night. Time and place to be determined.
BSC used a 16-4 run in the second half to build a seven point cushion at 57-50, but the Eagles answered with a 16-9 stretch of the their own to tie the game at 66-66 with 1:38 to go in regulation. With the game tied again at 68, BSC's Ross Welch made driving layup to give the Panthers a two-point edge with 47 seconds remaining. However, senior Davis Rao made a clutch jumper from just inside the three point line to tie the game at 70 with 34 seconds left. The Panthers had a chance to win it before the final buzzer but Ian Thom missed a close range layup with seven seconds left that sent the game into overtime.
Davis Rao's Clutch Jumper
Birmingham Southern took a two point lead 1:34 into the extra session at 74-72 but freshman Beau Bommarito responded with a huge corner three off the great feed by Jonathan Terry off the long outlet pass by sophomore Whit Rapp to put the Eagles ahead 75-74. Bommarito finished with just four points on 1-of-2 shooting but his big three pointer gave Emory the lead for good with 3:18 to go.
Bommarito Corner Three for the Lead
BSC's Alex Avery cut it to 79-78 with 50 seconds remaining in overtime but that was closest the Panthers would get in the final moments. Down one with the clock running down, The Panthers had a costly turnover as a back-cut pass went out of bounds to give the ball back to the Eagles with 2.8 seconds to go. Rao was fouled on the inbounds pass and made his first free throw. After a technical foul was issued to the BSC, before the second foul shot that gave Rao another two shots from the charity stripe. Rao went on to make all three to provide the 84-78 final margin.
Rao led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the line. Senior Will Trawick scored 20 points in 23 minutes and sophomore Adam Gigax (13) and Terry (11) were the other Eagles in double figures. Gigax grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and Rao and Rapp dished out a team-best three assists.
For Birmingham Southern, Avery poured in 19 points, corralled seven boards and handed out game-high seven assists. Thom posted 16 points and nine rebounds while Welch scored 15 points and Harrison Deneka chipped in with 13 of his own.
The game was tightly contested as the lead changed hands eight times and was tied at 11 different moments. Neither squad was able to put distance from the other as the largest lead in the game was BSC's seven point edge in the second half.