When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, few teams in NCAA Division III do it better than the LaGrange College Panthers.
Heading into today’s NCAA tournament opener against Centre (Ky.), the Panthers are averaging 89 points per game, and that puts them among the top 10 teams in the country in that category.
Senior post player Patrick Dugger leads the team with nearly 17 points per game, and four other players have scoring averages in double figures.
The Panthers (18-10) have the ability to hurt teams in the paint, from the outside, and in transition where they’re so dangerous.
“We’ve got a lot of matchup problems for a lot of teams,” LaGrange College assistant head coach David McGreal said. “Patrick’s a load obviously, and we’ve got shooters on both sides. Nick Mitchell, he can take it to the hole on anybody. Just give him the ball right now and let him create.”
The Panthers are so prolific offensively that in a USA South semifinal game against Greensboro, they gave up 102 points, and still won by 14.
In a wild second half, LaGrange College outscored Greensboro 71-65 to win 116-102.
The Panthers have scored more than 100 points three times this season, and they’ve scored at least 90 points in 13 of their 28 games.
“These guys score,” McGreal said. “Our thing that hurts us sometimes is the ability to stop people consistently. If we hold people to 80 or below, we’ve got a great chance.”
Dugger, who is making nearly 56 percent of his shots, scores 16.8 points per game, and he’s also the top rebounder at 10 per game.
Mark Wagner, who scores 14 points per game, is the Panthers’ leading 3-point shooter, and Denzel Robinson scores 13.6 points per game.
Mitchell, coming off an MVP performance in the USA South tournament, scores 12.6 points per game, and he has made more than half of his shot attempts.
In the win over Greensboro, Mitchell scored 36 points while making 9-of-11 attempts from the field.
The fifth player in double figures is Dustin Baxter, who is averaging 11.9 points a game.
Those five players do the bulk of the scoring, and they play more minutes than anyone else.
The Panthers play a fast-paced game, and that’s obviously part of the reason they score so much.
Rarely do the Panthers use up all of the shot clock, and they also get a lot of their points off of turnovers created by their full-court press.
“We like to press the entire game,” LaGrange College head coach Kendal Wallace said. “We like to play up-tempo and tire the other teams out. That’s been good for us this year.”