Men's Basketball: Second half surge sends Thomas past Panthers

Men's Basketball: Second half surge sends Thomas past Panthers

Thomas University used a strong second half to down LaGrange 88-74 on Saturday afternoon in Mariotti Gym. The Panthers slipped to 7-5 with the loss, while the NAIA Night Hawks improved to 6-4.

"Thomas was well prepared for our defense. They were very strong on the attack and their perimeter defense kind of got us out of our system and what we like to do," Coach Kendal Wallace said. "They are a very fast team and athletic and play well together. They seem to like each other and trust each other. We're in a funk a little bit with that type of situation. Down in Miami we didn't respect each other and didn't play as a team or as a unit and that seems to have flowed over to tonight."

Alex Bonner led three Panthers in double figures with 19 points. Drew Vanderbrook added 17 and Justyn Olson 13. 

Olson had 12 of his points in the first half. The Panthers fell behind by eight in the early going. Olson's layup gave the Panthers their first lead, 22-21, with seven minutes left in the half. Jamison McCray's 3-pointer gave LC its biggest lead, 28-23. But Thomas rallied to take a 43-37 lead at halftime.

The Panthers came out cold shooting to start the second half. The Night Hawks took advantage by building a 58-40 lead with 11:59 left. The Panthers were never able to get closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

The teams combined for 60 fouls and 84 free throw attempts in the game. Thomas was 35-of-57 at the line, while the Panthers were 16-of-27. 

"We have to get back to work on Monday and maybe the new year will bring us some cheer," Wallace said. "Hopefully, we can get the ball in the hole. We're having a hard time shooting the ball right now."

The Panthers open their USA South schedule with games at Covenanat and Piedmont next Friday and Saturday.