The LaGrange College women’s basketball team shook off a stubborn Rust team to claim a 64-59 home victory Wednesday night.
The Panthers led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but Rust kept hanging around, and it was a three-point game with 26 seconds remaining.
Caroline Brashier helped the Panthers hang on by making six free throws in the final minute.
The Panthers have won three straight games to improve to 5-3, and they won’t play again until Jan. 4 when they open USA South play against Methodist.
Brashier had a tough night from the field, making just three of 13 attempts, but she was 11-of-13 on free-throw attempts to finish with a team-high 18 points.
Alex Wilson, who made half of her six 3-point attempts, added 15 points, and Kelsey Mitchell scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Shaye Butler led the Panthers with eight rebounds.
The Panthers struggled early, falling behind 16-8 seven minutes into the game, but they rallied to take a 25-23 lead at the half.
Wilson’s 3-pointer tied it at 23-23, and Mitchell made a layup to give the Panthers the lead.
It remained tight early in the second half, but a 9-1 run gave the Panthers a 42-33 lead with 13:54 remaining.
The Panthers led by as many as 10 points on a Wilson jumper with 11:49 left.
After Rust got within four, LaGrange College went back up by 10 points with 6:21 to play.
Rust wasn’t done, though.
A 12-5 run trimmed the Panthers’ lead to three points with 4:41 to play.
Rust got it as close as three points a few other times, but it came no closer.
The Panthers’ final field goal of the game came with 2:41 remaining, but Brashier’s free throws helped them preserve the win.