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Panthers lose a close one

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The LaGrange College Panthers, needing a win to bolster their chances of making it to the conference tournament, lost a hard-fought 80-75 game to visiting Piedmont College on Tuesday night.

LaGrange College (6-15 overall) fell to 5-9 in the USA South, and it is in a tie for fourth place in the West division with Maryville and Berea.

LaGrange College needs to finish fourth or higher in its division to qualify for the eight-team conference tournament.

LaGrange College has four regular-season games remaining, all against conference foes, and three of those games are at home.

In Tuesday’s game, the Panthers were within one with 54 seconds to play, but the Lions made eight free throws after that to preserve the win.

Henry Blair had a big game off the bench for the Panthers with 26 points while making three 3-pointers, and Julian Cameron added 15 points.

Ronald Youngblood was 5-of-7 from the field while scoring 14 points, and Lincoln Anderson had eight points and a team-leading eight points

The Panthers struggled offensively, making 37 percent of their shot attempts, and they were 26 percent on three-point tries.

Miles Riley and Evan Easton each had 14 points for Piedmont, which made 47.5 percent of its shot attempts.

“We just had a rough night,” LaGrange College head coach Kendal Wallace said. “I thought we were ready to play coming off a two-game win streak. We knew exactly what they were going to do. Take your hat off to their number 11, Miles Riley. I knew what it take it to the basket and when not to. Piedmont is a good team. They’re well-coached and their players hit some big shots tonight. It would have been nice to win tonight and even things up in the conference race. At this point, we have to turn around and get ready for a big weekend at home and try to win these games.

“I really appreciate our fans coming out and being our sixth man for us. It was just a rough night for us turnovers-wise and shooting from the perimeter.”

LaGrange College hosts Pfeiffer on Saturday and William Peace on Sunday.

After a game at Huntingdon on Feb. 19, LaGrange College closes the regular season with a home game against Maryville on Feb. 22.