The Southwestern Pirates defeated The Centenary College Gents 74-67 on Friday night in the opening round of the SCAC Men's Basketball Championships hosted by Austin College.
Both teams traded leads multiple times throughout the first half. Down 17-18, twelve minutes into the game , the Pirates started to make their move. Adrian Johnson stole the ball from Jairus Browning, got fouled and made a pair of free throws to take the 19-18 lead. After a missed three-pointer from the Gents, Michael Cantu came down the floor and knocked down a three for the Pirates. Southwestern forced a turnover and on the ensuing possession, Chase Kocher made a layup to make it 24-18. Then Centenary's Jonathan Blount hit a jumper with 6 minutes left in the half to cut the lead to four points. Southwestern scored in a flurry as Cantu added two at the charity stripe, Sean Meyers scored a layup and Nicholas Atiee hit from behind the arc to take a 31-20 lead with four minutes to go. On the strength of that scoring run, the Pirates took a 36-29 advantage into halftime.
The Gents fought their way back in the second half and tied the game at 49-49 with nine minutes on the clock. Atiee hit from distance and Cantu sunk two free-throws to give the Bucs' a quick five point advantage. Centenary tied the game up just as fast, getting a three-pointer and free throws of their own.
The Pirates took the 59-58 lead with just under five minutes to play on a made Kocher free throw and never looked back. Southwestern went 11-16 from the free throw line down the stretch and secured the 74-67 victory over Centenary.
Southwestern's defense accrued nine steals and forced Centenary into 17 turnovers on the night. Michael Cantu led the Bucs' with 18 points and went 11-12 from the free throw line. The Gents' Jonathan Blount led all scorers with 20 points.
Southwestern advances to face Trinity on Saturday at 5pm in the second round of the SCAC Men's Basketball Championships.