Oglethorpe can't overcome first-half shooting struggles, falls to No. 22 Maryville 65-56

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The Oglethorpe men's basketball team hung with the No. 22 Maryville (Tennessee) Scots Sunday afternoon at the Emory Thanksgiving Classic in Atlanta, but poor first-half shooting doomed the Stormy Petrels in a 65-56 loss at Emory's Woodruff PE Center. The result dropped the Petrels to 2-3 on the season.

The Petrels played well defensively, holding the Scots to 35.2 percent from the field over the course of the game. However, they couldn't get going offensively in the first half, converting on just 24 percent of their field-goal attempts and 38.5 percent of their free-throw tries, finding themselves behind 32-19 at the break.

Maryville started the second half by extending that lead further. They outscored Oglethorpe 9-2 over the opening three minutes of the period to take their largest lead of the game, 41-21 with 17:15 remaining. The Petrels bounced back from there, though. 

They embarked on a huge run to work their way right back into the game. The Petrels outscored the Scots 28-13 over an 8:30 stretch and worked their way back to within five points at the 7:45 mark, 54-49. However, Maryville responded with a 9-2 run of their own over a three-minute stretch to take retake control of the contest, 63-51, with 3:45 remaining. Oglethorpe was unable to get back into the game after that.

In the first half, the Petrels jumped out to a 6-0 lead early, but the Scots responded with a 17-2 run to take a 17-8 lead at the 10-minute mark. Maryville answered three straight Petrel points with seven consecutive of their own, taking a 24-11 lead. Another seven-point run gave the Scots a 32-15 lead with just under two minutes left in the half.

The Petrels outshot Maryville for the game, converting on 39.6 percent of their field-goal attempts to the Scots' 35.2, but made just 25 percent of their 3-point attempts and 52.2 percent of their shots from the foul line. Oglethorpe had 19 giveaways to just seven for Maryville, resulting in a 17-2 margin in points off turnovers and a 9-0 one in fastbreak points.

Sophomore forward Will Koch recorded a double double on the day, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Senior forward Zach Breathwaite had his best game as a Petrel, scoring 14 points on 6-of-8 from the field. Freshman guard Ryan Jenei added 13 points and five boards.

"I thought we really got after it defensively today," said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder, "but we just couldn't make shots in the first half. Our offense finally got going in the second half, but we had too much ground to make up. I thought we showed heart in fighting back the way we did, though. We played two extremely tough opponents this weekend, and that'll help make us better down the road."

The Petrels return to Dorough Field House Friday and Saturday, as they host Trinity (Texas) and Boyce on back-to-back days. The game against Trinity gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday, while the Petrels take on Boyce at 4 p.m. Saturday.