SHERMAN, Texas - Trailing by seven at halftime and by 12 with 12 minutes left, it looked as if the Gents were losing its grip on a two seed and a bye to the semifinals of the 2018 Southern Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament. Three minutes and 11 unanswered points helped change that.
Trailing 63-51 with 12:08 left in regulation, a 15-2 run put the Maroon and White back in front as Centenary (14-10, 8-6 SCAC) held on late for the 83-78 win against Austin College (4-21, 2-12 SCAC) in the regular season finale Saturday afternoon, February 17.
Down by 12, senior Travion Kirkendoll hit a jumper and junior Kaharri Carter made a dunk off a steal. After Austin College pushed the deficit back to double-digits with a pair of free throws, back-to-back threes by junior Treylan Matthews and Kirkendoll quickly cut the deficit to four with 10 minutes left.
Kirkendoll finished the game with 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field, hitting both three-pointers attempted. He also grabbed eight boards, made four steals, and dished out three assists.
Matthews added a season-high 26 points with six assists and five boards - missing his career-best scoring output by one point.
Kirkendoll brought Centenary within 65-62 when he split from the line. Matthews added the layup and a Kirkendoll dunk off a steal to punctuate the 11-0 spurt. The 'Roos battled back for a 69-67 lead, but a layup from freshman Raylon Hardy tied the game and jumpstarted a Gents 7-0 run. Sophomore Cedric Harris made a layup and Kirkendoll drained a triple to put Centenary in the lead for good.
While the Gents recorded a season-high 24 turnovers, it held a 47-33 edge on the boards. Centenary also shot 50 percent (32-for-64) for the game, including a blazing 60.7 percent (17-for-28) in the second half alone. The second half percentage is the Maroon and White's second-best shooting half of the season (19-for-27, 70.4 percent, in the second half against Louisiana College November 27).
Centenary led by two with 43 seconds left when Kirkendoll grabbed an offensive board and was fouled. He made the first before missing the second, but Carter snatched the board for his 10th rebound of the game and his second collegiate double-double (18 points).
After Austin College missed a potential game-tying three with less than 10 seconds remaining, Hardy took the rebound, was fouled, and hit both from the line for the final five-point margin.
Austin College led 22-20 in the first before scoring eight-straight to stretch the advantage to double-digits. Kameron Hill made a fastbreak layup. Austin Wells drained a three before another Hill layup. JP Feider split from the line to put the home team up 30-20 with 8:35 left in the half.
Justice Mercadel scored 20 points to lead a quintet of 'Roos who reached double figures. Kam Hogan chipped in 15 while Kam Hogan scored 12. Feider came off the bench for 10 points, while Michael Holland also scored 10.
Centenary returns to action next weekend for the SCAC Tournament. The two seed, the Gents captured a bye to the second semifinal game on Saturday, February 24, at 3 p.m. CST (2 p.m. MST). Centenary will face the winner of Dallas and Texas Lutheran.