Red-hot Panthers roll in USA South opener
LAGRANGE – With their two senior guards leading the way, the LaGrange College Panthers eased past the visiting Methodist Monarchs 97-79 on Saturday to open their USA South schedule with a flourish.
Trailing 44-39 at the half, the Panthers outscored the Monarchs 58-35 in the second half to win going away.
Seniors Mark Wagner and Braxton Ford had a combined 50 points to pace the Panthers.
Wagner led all scorers with 27 points, with 19 of those points coming in the second half, and Ford was 8-of-10 from the field on the way to a 23-point effort.
Justyn Olson added 13 points for the Panthers, with 12 of those points coming in the decisive second half.
In the first half, it was tied 39-39 when Methodist went on a 5-0 run to take a five-point lead at the break.
It didn’t take the Panthers long to take control of things at the start of the second half.
The Panthers were trailing 46-41 when Wagner connected on a 3-pointer, and that jump-started a 14-0 run.
Ford tied it with a layup with 18:03 to play, and less than 10 seconds later, Wagner scored to give the Panthers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
With 14:17 to play, Olson drained a 3-pointer, and the Panthers were up 60-49, and they had a double-digit lead the rest of the game.
The Panthers made 63 percent of their shot attempts in the second half, and they were 6-of-8 on their 3-point attempts.
While the offense was unstoppable in the second half, LaGrange College’s defense also got the job done, with Methodist making just 33 percent of its shot attempts in the final 20 minutes.
“We evidently forgot that we need to defend the other team during a basketball game,” LaGrange College coach Kendal Wallace. “Our coaching staff reminded them at halftime that in order to reach our goals, we must defend. I’m proud of our three seniors who led us in the second half. We also got valuable minutes from Justyn (Olson), Duncan (Parker), and Elijah (Adedoyin).”
LaGrange College, which has won six in a row to improve to 7-1, will play in the Daytona Beach Shootout next weekend.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports