LaGRANGE, Ga. -- LaGrange College (1-0) held off a second-half rally by Birmingham-Southern (2-1) for a 65-59 win Wednesday night at Mariotti Gym. It was the season opener for LaGrange as the Panthers handed BSC its first loss of the season.
The Panthers started by turning the ball over on their first possession, giving up a dunk on the other end. LaGrange never trailed again despite a ferocious effort from the Panthers to keep their young winning-streak alive. The ‘Southern offense was never really in synch, though, shooting just 30-percent from the floor in the first half. LaGrange was able to capitalize on the poor shooting from BSC to expand their lead out to 16 by the end of the half, taking a 37-21 advantage into the locker room.
The second half was better for the Panthers, shooting 52-percent, but they were never able to fully dig themselves out of the deep hole they dug in the first half. With 14:12 remaining LC had its largest lead of the game at 26, almost doubling the Panthers’ output at 53-27, but Coach Cole’s team never threw in the towel. They slowly began to chip into the deficit. LaGrange committed 8 of their 18 turnovers in the final 14 minutes and their shooting began to cool allowing the Panthers to get back within striking distance.
With 6:30 minutes remaining in the game the Panthers had shaved 10 points off the LaGrange lead and continued to close the gap thanks to solid play on both ends of the floor. By the 2:51 mark the game was back in single-digits, 59-50, and with 41 seconds left a pair of Roger Williams’ free throws cut the lead down to four. But, LaGrange hit its free throws in the final seconds, finally putting the game away from the line.
Roger Williams led all scorers with 17 points, he also pulled in a team-high 7 rebounds on the night. Michael Rebarchak was the only other Panther in double-figures with 12 points. BSC played the game without leading scorer, and SCAC Player of the Week, Aaron Parr who sprained his ankle late in Sunday's win over Huntingdon College.
"It will be difficult to beat anyone if we go 0-12 from the three point line and turn the ball over 18 times," said Cole.
The Panthers will not have to wait long to get things back on track. They will return to Bill Battle Coliseum tomorrow, November 21, to take on Emory University, game time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.