SHERMAN, Texas - Down 10 points with 5:28 to play, the Southwestern University men's basketball team closed the game with a 21-4 run to storm back to defeat the Austin College 'Roos, 77-70, in their conference opener at Hughly Gymnasium.
It was a tough shooting day for the Pirates, only going 22 of 61 (36%) from the field and 7 of 21 (33%) from behind the arc. Southwestern got to the free throw line 38 times and shot 68%. On the other end, Austin College was 24 of 69 (35%) from the field, 8 of 34 (24%) from deep, and 14 of 23 (61%) at the charity stripe.
The Pirates outrebounded the 'Roos 51-44 and forced 16 turnovers on the evening. Southwestern got 33 points from the bench and scored 21 points on the Austin College turnovers.
Southwestern got off to a rough start, falling behind 24-11 in the first 10 minutes. The Pirates outscored Austin College 19-11 throughout the rest of the half to cut the deficit down to five going into the break.
The Pirates continued chip away at the deficit, but the 'Roos seemed to have an answer each time, either coming up with a big shot to increase the lead or making a stop to keep their lead. After falling behind 41-34, the Pirates went on an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 42-41.
Austin College took the lead back almost immediately and pushed it out to seven with less than 10 to play. The Pirates struggled offensively for the next five minutes and the 'Roos took a 66-56 lead, looking to pick up the SCAC win on their home floor.
Southwestern had other plans, starting with a 12-0 run to regain the lead at 68-66 after a 3-pointer from sophomore Ryan Wheeler. Austin College tied it up but a lay up followed by a free throw from sophomore Luke Hicks push Southwestern back ahead by three with 57 seconds to play.
Austin College cut it to one but free throws and defense would close the game out as Wheeler hit four straight free throws while freshman Trenton Garrett iced the game for good for the huge 77-70 win to open SCAC play. With only a three point lead, sophomore Kyle Howard came away with a huge steals in the final seconds to give Austin College no chance of a good look.
Wheeler led the way offensively with 13 points to go with a stellar four steals while sophomore Brandon Alexander scored 12 points off the bench. Sophomore Jake Holmes had a pair of career-highs with 11 points and 13 rebounds, along with six offensive rebounds. Senior Ryan Ogden pitched in 10 points with three assists and two blocks.
Hicks scored nine off the bench to go with five boards and three assists while Howard scored eight to go with five rebounds.
Austin Wells scored 17 points while Justice Mercadel scored 16 points for the 'Roos. Michael Holland had a great game in the post with five points, 16 rebounds, five blocks, and three steals.
Southwestern moves to 5-7 overall and 1-0 in the SCAC. They return to action on Sunday as they head to Shreveport, La. to battle Centenary at 12 PM.