LaGrange pulled away in the second half for a 75-56 win over the Mississippi University for Women at the Wingate by Wyndham Classic in Mariotti Gym on Friday. The Panthers are 2-0 on the young season, while the visiting Owls were playing their season opener.
After LC's 108-101 win over Pensacola Christian on Monday, Coach Kendal Wallace wanted to see improvement in his team's defense. The Panthers responded by holding MUW to 33.3 % shooting for the game. The Panthers forced 27 turnovers that included 16 steals. LC outscored the Owls 24-6 off turnovers.
"We're so young and I think we're a pretty good defensive team if we're energetic and active and all of that type of stuff," said Wallace. "We made a point of doing that at halftime.
"At halftime, we felt like we needed to take the ball to the rack and be stronger inside, utilizing our strength with Zac (Hill) and Cooper (Dolhancyk) a little bit more more that proved to effective for us."
LC had five players in double figures. Senior Kyle Brown had a game high double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. He added six steals and three blocked shots. Dolhancyk had 14 points, while Hill and Gabe Cofield had 11 points each. Hill had seven rebounds and a career high seven steals. Sophomore Camerin Lyons had 10 points and led the team with four assists.
The Panthers never trailed in the game, but it was midway through the second half before they could pull away. LC led 32-28 at halftime, despite shooting 38.7% from the floor and making just 5-of-13 at the free throw line.
The game was tied at 38 four minutes into the second half. Brown hit a go-ahead jumper coming out of a media time out. Hill helped build the Panthers' lead with back to back layups while making plays at the defensive end.
Hill's second layup gave LC its first double-digit lead, 52-41, midway through the second half. Dolhancyck's three-point play provided the biggest lead and the 75-56 final score.
"Zac Hill was the reason we were able to get the big lead," Wallace pointed out. "He buckled down on defense; getting deflections and rebounding. He went to the glass at both ends which was the reason we were able to build the lead and contain it."
The Panthers improved to 50.0% shooting in the second half. LC made 14 of its 17 free throws in the half.
The Panthers wrap up the tournament Saturday against Sewanee, a 70-61 loser to Huntingdon in the first game of the night. Tipoff is 5 p.m.