LaGrange got a combined 43 points from Travis Thompson and Jamison McCray as the Panthers beat Berea 101-92 in a USA South game Saturday in Mariotti Gym. The Panthers (8-4, 4-1 USA South) hit the century mark for the second straight game. It was the first time the Panthers reached 100 points in back-to-back games since the first two games of the 2007-08 season.
"We've been shooting pretty well the last few games. Berea is a good team and right below Maryville (Sunday's opponent) in the standings," said Coach Kendal Wallace, whose LC teams are 19-1 when scoring 100 or more points. "It was very important for us to come in and try to handle their attacking, excellent offense. It was our determination to come in here and try to get stops and I think we did that.
"I thought we played well overall, we're starting to find a little bit of a rhythm I hope. Our lineups are working well together and it was great to get Jamison (McCray) back tonight. As long as we are playing smarter and don't turn the ball over, I think we have a good shot at every game."
Thompson tied for game honors with 23 points, while having a game and career-high 15 rebounds. McCray came off the bench to score 20, followed by Gary Bishop with 17. The Panthers had 15 3s in the game and set a school NCAA era record with 37 3-point attempts. The Panthers outrebounded the Mountaineers 47-35 in the game, including 20-8 at the offensive end.
"Our philosophy at the first of the year was shoot a 3 or attack the basket getting it inside but that didn't work so well at the first of the year so we kind of got away from that," Wallace pointed out. "Getting the ball inside opens things up outside where our guys are getting cleaner looks than they did the first half of the year."
The two teams swapped the lead back and forth for the game's first 12 minutes. Thompson's three-point play broke a 30-30 tie with seven minutes left in the first half. McCray had 14 of his points in the half as the Panthers took a 58-48 lead at halftime. In the second half, LC continued to build its lead. Lincoln Anderson put back his own missed shot for a 80-51 lead with 12:06 left. Berea cut the deficit to six over the next seven minutes, but the Panthers used the free throw line to seal the game, scoring 9 of their final 14 points from the charity stripe.
The Panthers host Maryville on Sunday in a USA South game at 3 p.m. Maryville coach Randy Lambert, who is in his 39th and final season coaching the Scots, will be recognized by the Panthers before the game.
"I know him all too well," said Wallace, who played and served as an assistant coach for Lambert. "It's going to be a good day for us and a good day for him. He's a great man and a good mentor to me."