No. 22 Birmingham Southern Defeats Southern Maine 85-73

Chris Pagentine had 23 points in a loss to No. 22 Birmingham Southern
Chris Pagentine had 23 points in a loss to No. 22 Birmingham Southern
NEW ORLEANS, La. – Junior guard Kevin Kegarise (Franklin, Tenn./Oak Hill Academy) scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures as the nationally-ranked Birmingham Southern College Panthers defeated the University of Southern Maine Huskies, 85-73, at The Big Easy Challenge at the Alario Center in New Orleans, La.

         The win is the second straight for Panthers, who are ranked 22nd in the latest national poll, and improved their overall record to 9-1.  Southern Maine falls to 6-5 on the season suffering its third straight loss.

         Kegarise was 9-for-11 from the field and an outstanding 6-for-8 from the three-point line to lead the Panthers.  Senior guard Jasen Jonus (Boaz, Ala./Crossville) added 15 points, while junior forward Zac Richards (Hoover, Ala.) and sophomore forward Griffin Schamp (Atlanta, Ga./Wesleyan) each tossed in 10 points.  Richards added a team-high seven rebounds. 

         Senior guard Chris Pagentine (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) was one fo three USM players in double figures with a team-high 23 points.  Pagentine was 8-for-13 from the field with a trio of three-pointers.  Senior forward Jeremy Jackson (Laplace, La./Independence) continued his strong play in the post finishing one rebound shy of a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds.  Junior guard Alex Kee (Bath, Maine/Morse) added a season-high 16 points. 

         The Huskies started the game out strong and led the nationally-ranked Panthers for a majority of the first half.  Southern Maine led Birmingham Southern by as many as nine points in the opening stanza and held a 28-25 lead with 3:37 to play in the first half following a three from Pagentine.  However, the Panthers were able to string together a 12-2 run over the final three and a half minutes of play to take a modest 35-30 lead into the break.  Kegarise, Schamp and Jonus each scored in the run for the Panthers, led by five points from Jonus.

         Maintaining their offensive pressure, the Panthers opened up the game early in the second half outscoring USM 22-8 to take an overwhelming 57-38 lead with 14:29 to play.  Kegarise knocked down two of his game-high six three-pointers in the decisive run. From there the Panthers maintained a comfortable lead over the Huskies en route to the win.

         Southern Maine hosts Keene State College on Saturday, January 7 (3:00 p.m.) in a Little East Conference.  Birmingham Southern faces Clark (Mass.) University tomorrow at (8:00 p.m. CST).