November 16, 2011

Huntingdon men’s basketball opens with loss to 22nd-ranked Birmingham-Southern

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon men's basketball team opened the season with a tough loss Tuesday night.

The Hawks battled Birmingham-Southern until the buzzer, but the 22nd-ranked Panthers left Roland Arena with an 81-79 victory.

"It was typical of how these two teams play against each other," Huntingdon head coach Mike Pugh said. "Birmingham-Southern is a good team and they're well coached. We both battled and it came down to the wire."

The two teams split last season with Birmingham-Southern winning by seven at home and the Hawks winning by three at Roland Arena.

In Tuesday's game, BSC's Blaise White made a steal on a Huntingdon in-bounds pass and hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final two minutes to help seal the game. White's final free throw gave the Panthers (1-0) an 81-77 lead with 23 seconds to play. In the final 19 seconds, Huntingdon missed three shots before Jerrod Lee scored at the buzzer.

"Both teams made mistakes and we both had opportunities," Pugh said, noting that both teams turned the ball over 22 times. "But the difference tonight was free throws. We were horrible at the line and they hit most of their free throws. You can't do that in a game like this."

Huntingdon hit 13-of-24 free throws. BSC was 24-of-31 from the free-throw line.

Jason Varney and Jeremiah Thomas each scored 13 points to lead the Hawks (0-1). Thomas also had a game-high eight rebounds and Varney added four rebounds. Courtnee Edgar had 11 points and five assists and Kanden Blackmon finished with 10 points.

Jasen Jonus led BSC with 19 points and Kevin Kegarise and Griffin Schamp each added 13 points. Caleb Lee finished with 10 points.

The Hawks return to action this weekend in the Huntingdon Classic. The Hawks host Concordia on Friday at 7 p.m. and take on 23rd-ranked Hampden-Sydney at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

"We've got two more big tests coming up this weekend," Pugh said. "We're going to have to eliminate our mistakes and make better decisions than we did tonight."