Men's Basketball: Justyn Olson has career night as Panthers outlast Huntingdon 97-87 in OT

Men's Basketball: Justyn Olson has career night as Panthers outlast Huntingdon 97-87 in OT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Justyn Olson had a career night as LaGrange outlasted Huntingdon 97-87 in overtime Wednesday in Roland Arena.

Olson poured in a career-high 36 points for the Panthers (17-7, 8-5 USA South). The 36 points was the most by a Panther since Nick Mitchell had 36 against Greensboro in the semifinals of the 2014 USA South Tournament.

"First, you have to tip your hat to a Huntingdon team that played a hard fought game and gave us everything we could handle," said Coach Kendal Wallace, who improved to 3-2 against Huntingdon in Roland Arena. "They battled back every time we thought we had them put away and we had to rely on Justyn's two clutch free throws to even give us an opportunity to win in OT."

The Panthers trailed 42-41 at halftime. They opened the second half on a 13-2 run. Mike White's layup put the Panthers up 54-44 four minutes into the half.

Huntingdon (8-16, 1-12 USA South) used a 12-0 run to take a 76-71 lead with 2:38 left in regulation. The Panthers answered with seven straight points to retake the lead.

Alex Bonner went inside for a basket, then Mark Wagner completed a three-point play for a 78-76 lead. But the Panthers were trailing 80-78 with six seconds left.

Olson was fouled and made both free throws to tie the game at 80. The Panthers then survived the Hawks' Dantavius Washington missing inside at the buzzer as the game went to overtime.

The Panthers controlled the extra period from the outset. Drew Vanderbrook hit two free throws, then Olson was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws for an 85-80 lead.

Olson hit a jumper and Wagner followed with a trey for a 91-82 lead with 2:27 left. Huntingdon would not get closer than seven the rest of the way. Bonner's layup with 26 seconds left provided the 97-87 final.

The Panthers went into overtime for the second straight game and third in the last four. The Panthers are 3-1 in overtime games this season and 9-2 over the last three seasons.

"We talk all the time about winning five-minute games through the course of a 40 minute contest and I believe that is why we have had success in overtime situations the past few years, we know how to win five minute games!" Wallace noted. "Justyn took over in overtime making some big shots along with more clutch free throws. Mark hit another clutch 3-pointer to put us up nine, and then we were able to close them out after that."

White followed Olson for the Panthers with 13 points, while Wagner added 12. Bonner finished with a double-double of 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Braxton Ford was the fifth Panther in double figures with 10 points.

The Panthers close out the regular season Saturday at Piedmont. The Panthers won the first meeting 105-84 on Jan. 20 in Mariotti Gym.