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Centre College Earns SAA Regular Season Championship

Centre College knocked off Sewanee 76-64 to win the Southern Athletic Association regular season title on Saturday.

The Colonels will be the No. 1 seed in the SAA Tournament next week:

Centre started the season 5-6 before turning things around and winning 12 of their last 13 games.

Here’s a game recap by CC:

DANVILLE, Ky. – In a hard-fought game in a raucous Alumni Gym, the Centre men’s basketball team clinched the outright regular season championship in the Southern Athletic Association with a 76-64 victory over the Sewanee Tigers.

Prior to the game, Centre honored the career of senior Zach Schmucker (Cincinnati), and would have plenty more to celebrate by night’s end.

The Tigers controlled the opening portion of the contest, shooting 53.6 percent in the first half compared to 35.5 percent shooting for the Colonels. Cam Caldwell’s three-pointer lifted Sewanee to its biggest lead at 34-25 with 2:40 left in the opening half, and the Tigers took a 36-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.

In the second half, Centre quickly stormed out of the gate as Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.), who battled foul trouble while the Tigers built their lead, attacked the basket at will and converted several tough shots at the rim. After Ayers’ offensive onslaught, the Colonels battled back to tie the score at 40-40. Sewanee’s Luke Smith scored five straight points to put Sewanee up by five. The Colonels chipped away until Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) nailed a three to tie the score once again at 53-53.

Centre went ahead for the first time in the second half on a layup by Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.), the first of three consecutive clutch baskets for the sophomore. A runner in the lane by Art Walker (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) and a huge three by Sine put Centre up 66-57 and the Colonels did not look back from there, converting free throws at the end of the game to create the 76-64 final margin.

Sine and Ayers led the way for Centre with 19 points, followed by Bates with 18. Sewanee’s Adrian Thomas led all players with 26 points and 16 rebounds.

The Colonels shot 63 percent in the second half on 17-27 shooting as they outscored the Tigers by a margin of 46-28 in the final frame.

Centre outrebounded yet another SAA opponent, this time by a margin of 31-26, as Sine paced the Colonels with six boards. The Colonels led the conference in rebounding margin all season long.

Centre also forced nine Sewanee turnovers in the second half and 16 for the game, converting them into 15 points. The Colonels held a 34-8 advantage over the Tigers in bench scoring.

The outright regular season title means that Alumni Gym will host the 2017-18 SAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Centre will be the top seed, and fans should stay tuned to as more information comes in on this final day of the regular season.

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