The Centre men's basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Papa John's/Country Hearth Inn Tournament with a 69-54 win over Berry College on Thursday in Danville, Ky.
Senior guard Jeff Mullaney (Louisville, Ky.) led all scorers with 15 points and senior forwardGreg Ross (Cincinnati, Ohio) added 14 with a team-high 10 rebounds as the Colonels pulled away early in the second half.
Centre improves to 7-3 on the season with the victory while Berry remains winless at 0-10.
Though the Vikings held just one brief lead in the game at 4-2, they stayed with Centre through much of the first half. Berry trimmed the margin to three at 25-22 late in the half, but the Colonels scored the final seven points of the first half on a Bryon Ellis (Russell Springs, Ky.) 3-pointer and layups by Collin Lopez (Louisville, Ky.) and James Melloan (Louisville, Ky.).
After taking a 32-22 lead to the break, added buckets at the beginning of the second half to put the Colonels up 14. By the time Cody Marsh buried a pumper to put Berry on the board at the 16:48 mark in the second half, Centre had scored 11 straight points and held Berry scoreless for nearly seven minutes of play.
Though Berry hung around, it never would cut the margin back to single digits. Centre took its biggest lead three consecutive baskets from Ross put the Colonels up 19 at 55-36 with just under eight minutes to play. Berry eventually got as close as 61-51 in the final minute before Centre was able to put the game away from the free throw line.
Lopez went on to join Mullaney and Ross in double figures with 12 points while Nasser Almulla and Hunter Smoak tied for Berry's team lead with 12.
For the game, Centre outrebounded Berry 41-32 and turned the ball over nine times to the Vikings' 15.
Both teams will return to action Friday with Centre taking on No. 10 Cabrini in the championship game at 7 p.m. and Berry meeting Johns Hopkins in the consolation at 5 p.m. Cabrini was an 80-60 winner in Thursday's first game.