N.C. Wesleyan outlasted LaGrange 95-88 in a crossover USA South game Wednesday afternoon in Mariotti Gym. The loss was the fifth straight for the Panthers (4-6), while the Bishops of the conference's East Division upped their record to 8-3.
"We beat ourselves the entire game. We had many opportunities to win the game, but we just don't want to grab it and win," said Coach Kendal Wallace. "It was disappointing to give up free throw rebounds, turn the ball over, you name it. We probably missed 10 layups and you give up 50 rebounds to a team, you're never going to beat them.
"We're a little undersized, but at the same time, the kids have a lot of heart. They're just not doing the right things now to win basketball games."
Kyle Brown and Bershard Edwards each had 18 points for the Panthers. Edwards had 15 of his points in the second half. Zac Hill had his first career double-double. He tied his career and season high with 14 points and added a career high 12 rebounds. Micah Paulk had 13 points in his first game of the season, making 3-of-5 3-point attempts. Cooper Dolhancyk finished with 12 points.
Isaiah Lewis led N.C. Wesleyan with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds. Damon McDowell, the Bishops' leading scorer, added 17.
The Bishops enjoyed a 50-29 rebounding edge, including 19-11 on the offensive glass. The Panthers stayed closed by hitting 10-of-21 from beyond the arc. LC also forced 22 turnovers, leading to 27 points.
The game was tied on 15 occasions and there were 11 lead changes. Brown's layup four minutes into the second half put LC ahead 47-46 and was followed by Dolhancyk's driving basket for a 49-46 lead. Hill's basket inside off an assist from Brown gave the Panthers their last lead, 53-51, with 13:26 left.
Camerin Lyon's jumper midway through the half got the Panthers within two, 62-60. The Bishops used a 8-2 mini run to go up 70-62. McDowell's trey pushed the lead to 10, 83-73, with 3:33 remaining. Three-pointers by Paulk and Edwards trimmed the deficit to five points, 84-79, with 2:50 left. But the Panthers could get no closer the rest of the way.
The two teams played to 39-39 tie at halftime. The Panthers overcame 36.4% shooting in the half by forcing 14 Bishop turnovers. LC wiped out a 15-9 deficit with a 10-0 run. Paulk hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark the run. Brown's layup gave the Panthers a 19-15 lead, their largest of the game.
The Panthers play at West Georgia on Friday at 7 p.m. It will be the third game against a Division II opponent this season. The two teams are meeting for the first time since the 1992-93 season. LC leads the series 33-31.