ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - LaGrange's bid for a third straight USA South Tournament title ended with a 101-92 overtime loss to Covenant on Saturday.
The Panthers (20-8), who had overcame a double-digit deficit Friday to oust top-seeded N.C. Wesleyan, trailed by 18 points before rallying to force overtime.
"Today is an extremely tough day for our program. Tough because of our loss in competition but even tougher because of our loss of our three seniors," said Coach Kendal Wallace. "These young men led our program to success. These young men have overcome adversity throughout their lives and basketball careers here at LC.
"I am so proud and appreciative of the opportunity and responsibility to coach them. Their legacy lives in Mariotti hanging from the rafters. We didn't accomplish all of the goals we set for this season but 20 wins equates to success."
Seniors Braxton Ford, Mike White, and Mark Wagner may have played their final game for LaGrange. The Panthers await to see if they get at an at-large bid when the rest of the NCAA tournament field is announced.
"I am optimistic of the possibility of an at-large bid because of our strength of schedule and quality wins we've had this season," Wallace noted. "We will see on Monday."
Wagner led the Panthers with a game-high 26 points. Sophomore Alex Bonner had a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds, while junior Drew Vanderbrook added 18. All three were named to the all-tournament team.
Covenant lead 69-51 with 6:55 left in regulation. The Panthers cut the deficit in half, but still trailed 78-69 with two minutes left.
Wagner hit a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possesions to get the Panthers within two, 81-79, with 31 second left.
The Scots were holding a 82-79 lead when Wagner was fouled attempting a 3-pointer. He made two of the three free throws to make it a one-point game with 11 second left.
The Scots made 1-of-2 free throws to go up 83-81. Justyn Olson drove the lane to tie the game at 83 as the game went to overtime.
Vanderbrook's trey gave the Panthers their last lead, 88-86, with 3:08 left in the extra period. The Scots took the lead for good with 10 straight points to lead by eight with 59 seconds left. The game was the fifth this season to go into overtime for the Panthers.