Alex Bonner completed a three-point play with three seconds left to lift LaGrange to a thrilling come-from-behind 87-86 USA South win over Maryville on Saturday in Mariotti Gym.
Bonner's heroics capped a furious rally by the Panthers, who trailed Maryville (15-5, 5-4 USA South) by as many as 15 points in the first half and were down 12 six minutes into the second half. The victory avenged an earlier 97-84 loss to the Scots back on Dec. 3.
"This is a great win for the program," said Coach Kendal Wallace, who evened his record against his alma mater at 7-7. "This season we've been struggling a little bit but this needs to be short lived, because we have to come out tomorrow and focus on our bid to be in the conference tournament and play against a good Piedmont team.'
Bonner finished the game with 15 points, scoring the Panthers' final five points. He pulled down a team-best eight rebounds and had three steals. Justyn Olson had a team-high 19 points, with Drew Vanderbrook adding 16 off the bench and Elijah Adedoyin another 13.
"Just a phenomenal job by Alex Bonner," Wallace said. "He was one of our leading scorers but also rebounded and did the little things, then had the big finish at the end of the game to put us over the top, just a great game for him."
The Panthers trailed in the game for over 37 minutes before catching the Scots. They were down 72-62 with 8:15 left.
Adedoyin's two free throws and one each from Bonner and Vanderbrook got the Panthers within three, 72-69, only to have the Scots next five points for a 77-69 lead.
The Panthers got with two points on three occasions, the last when Bonner's two free throws made it a 86-84 game with 12 seconds showing.
Jay Bowyer had a chance to ice the game for the Scots. He missed a pair of free throws and Michael McCauley rebounded the second and quickly got the ball out to Bonner.
The junior drove down the right side of the lane, laying it in as he was fouled by the Scots' Colt Noke with just three ticks left. Bonner swished the free throw to put the Panthers up 87-86. Joshua Brooks' desperation shot from half court at the buzzer was off the mark, securing the key conference win.
Maryville took advantage of 12 turnovers by the Panthers in the first half to lead 44-33 at halftime. The Scots scored 21 points off the turnovers. LC reversed it in the second half, forcing 10 turnovers, while only committing three.
"In the second half, we wanted to up the tempo a little bit more and press some defensively," said Wallace. "We out rebounded them and we pretty much did what we planned to do today other than limiting the turnovers, but we converted on the turnovers we got from them."