Men's Basketball: Panthers knock off No. 18 Emory 91-86 at Maryville Classic

Men's Basketball: Panthers knock off No. 18 Emory 91-86 at Maryville Classic

MARYVILLE, Tenn. - LaGrange completed a perfect week with a 91-86 win over Emory on Sunday at the Maryville Classic.

The Panthers improved to 4-1 after going 3-0 during the week. The Eagles, preseason No. 18 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll, slipped to 4-3.

"I'm extremely proud of what these guys accomplished this weekend," said Coach Kendal Wallace. "Overcoming adversity is something athletes must to do to be successful and we certainly did that this weekend.

"These guys care more about the front of the jersey than the back, that is We is bigger than Me. Our guys played extremely hard against a nationally-ranked opponent with senior Mark Wagner leading the charge."

Wagner led all scorers with 24 points, 15 coming in the second half as the Panthers overcame a 45-40 halftime deficit. In the final 15 seconds, he had a steal and a rebound on the defensive end while making four straight free throws to ice the win. Wagner finished the game with seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

"Down the stretch whenever we needed the big play on both the defensive and offensive side, Mark made it happen," Wallace said.

The Panthers also got big contributions from their bench. Sophomore Alex Bonner had a season and career best 20 points, while freshman Jared Henderson added seven points and pulled down a game-best eight rebounds.

The Panthers took their first lead of the game, 56-55, on a 3-pointer by Braxton Ford five minutes into the second half. Bonner assisted on the play after making a steal at the other end.

The Eagles regained the lead and held it for the next seven minutes. Bonner's layup put the Panthers up 70-69 with 7:21 and they woud not trail again. 

Emory tied the game twice but the Panthers answered each time. Wagner scored the Panthers final five points from the free throw line.

The Panthers were 29-of-38 at the line in the game. They forced 21 turnovers by the Eagles, while committing only 13. 

"Alex and Jared both had huge minutes and made a big impact in crunch time," pointed out Wallace. "Even though we were under sized in almost every position, we made up for it in our grit and determination. Go Panthers!"

The Panthers host Birmingham-Southern on Wednesday and Auburn-Montgomery on Saturday in non-conference games.