Men's Basketball: Panthers roar back to beat Piedmont 76-68 in USA South opener

Photo by Jacob Krzyiak
Photo by Jacob Krzyiak

DEMOREST, Ga. - LaGrange roared back in the second half to beat Piedmont 76-68 on Tuesday in the USA South opener for both teams. The Panthers improved to 4-1 with their fourth straight win. Piedmont remained winless at 0-5.

The Panthers led by double figures early in the game and found themselves trailing by 14 seven minutes into the second half.

"We switched defenses and kept it simple on offense," Coach Kendal Wallace pointed out for fueling the comeback. "When Travis Thompson shoots well from the perimeter it opens up things for Jalen McCallum inside. Elijah Adedoyin also had a strong game for us defensively. 

"We started slow in the second half, but were able to battle back and hang on to the win. I love this team's chemistry."

McCallum came within a blocked shot of a triple double in the game. The senior forward set a school NCAA era record with all nine of the team's blocks in the game. He was just two blocks shy of tying the USA South game record. McCallum had 12 points and pulled down a game and career-high 15 rebounds. He had 10 of his points, eight rebounds, and five blocks in the second half.

Thompson led LC with 16 points, making 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Gary Bishop had 15 and Elijah Adedoyin 10 off the bench. The Panther bench outscored Piedmont's 24-11 in the game.

The Panthers jumped out to a 14-3 lead five minutes into the game. The Lions ran off 15 straight points to take the lead and took a 36-29 lead into halftime.

Piedmont continued to build on its lead into the second half. Andrew Stimpson's trey gave the Lions their biggest lead, 51-37, with 13:24 remaining.

McCallum's jumper in the lane finished a 9-0 run for the Panthers to cut the deficit to five. Bishop drained a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 56-55 lead with 5:30 left and they never trailed again. Thompson finished an 18-6 spurt over the next four minutes with a trey of his own and a pair of free throws as LC built a 74-61 lead. It was the biggest comeback since overcoming an 18-point deficit against N.C. Wesleyan in the 2015 USA South Tournament.

The Panthers play at Covenant in a USA South game Friday.

Notes: McCallum entered the game ninth on the school's career blocks list... He moved up to seventh after tonight with 63... LC's series with Piedmont dates back to the 1957-58 season... The Panthers have played the Lions now 130 times, more than any other opponent... LC leads the series 90-40...