LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - LaGrange turned back Covenant 73-64 in a USA South game Saturday. The Panthers improved to 9-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play.
"Tonight was a tale of two halves, we played a pretty complete first half, both offensively and defensively, unfortunately we didn't answer the bell in the second half," said Coach Kendal Wallace. "You have to commend Coach Taylor and Covenant for coming out and taking it to us in the second frame.
The Panthers were led by junior Justyn Olson's game-high double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Mark Wagner added 13 and junior Drew Vanderbrook had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
The Panthers held the Scots (5-6, 0-1 USA South) to 33.3 percent shooting, including 8-of-40 from 3-point range. Olson and Vanderbrook helped the Panthers control the boards with a 47-35 edge.
The Panthers led 23-8 with 9:21 left in the first half. Wagner and Olson each completed three-point plays, followed by Braxton Ford's jumper for the 15-point cushion.
Tyler Langston's jumper in the final seconds sent the Panthers into the halftime break with a 43-26 lead. Olson had 12 of his points in the half.
The Panthers led by as many as 18 in the opening minutes of the second half and led 52-36 with 14:31 left.
The Scots came back to out score the Panthers 19-1 over the next six minutes to take a 55-53 lead. The Panthers turned the ball over six times and missed all five of their shots during the stretch.
From that point, the game would be tied three times and the lead changed hands seven times.
Tied at 64 with 4:04 left, the Panthers would hold Covenant scoreless the rest of the game. The Scots missed six 3-pointers to close out the game.
Wagner broke the tie with a pair of free throws. He added a 3-pointer and two more free throws to put the Panthers up 72-64. Olson's free throw with 11 seconds left closed out the scoring.
"Thankfully we were able to make some big plays down the stretch on offense and seal the win. We made some big time stops on defense," Wallace pointed out. "Every conference game will be a battle, especially on the road, we have to be more prepared mentally in the coming weeks."
The Panthers host Millsaps in a non-conference game Monday at 7 p.m. in Mariotti Gym.