ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - LaGrange topped N.C. Wesleyan 84-64 to clinch a berth in the USA South tournament. The Panthers' fifth straight win improved their season record to 15-9 and 8-5 in conference play.
The Panthers close out the regular season Sunday at William Peace with a chance to share the conference title. LC sits a half game back of Maryville, Averett, and Methodist; who finished 9-5 in league play.
"Today was a great team win. N.C. Wesleyan is a well coached team with good players," Coach Kendal Wallace said. "We were able to hit some big shots. We wanted to defend their shooter and out rebound them and we did that. It certainly helps when your team plays together and you have two guys with double-doubles."
Senior Drew Vanderbrook led LaGrange in scoring for the third straight game with a game and career high 29 points to go with 10 rebounds. It was his second double-double in the last three games. He is averaging 24.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game during this span.
Junior Alex Bonner also recorded his second double-double in the last three games. Bonner had 11 points and tied for game honors with 12 rebounds.
N.C. Wesleyan (12-12, 5-8 USA South) led by eight points in the early going. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Justyn Olson and Bonner finished a 17-3 run for a 25-19 lead in the first half. The Panthers never trailed again and took a 40-33 lead into halftime.
The Bishops stayed close until the Panthers went on another run to put the game out of reach. Leading by six, LC went on an 18-4 run to open up a 79-59 lead with 3:26 remaining. Vanderbrook had the final six points on a 3-pointer, then hitting three free throws. The Panthers hit 13-of-27 from 3-point range in the game.