By Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Director
LAGRANGE, Ga. – Persistence and clutch foul shooting were the order of the day as LaGrange (12-6, 4-1 CCS) came out on top, 74-61, in a back-and-forth affair with Covenant (4-12, 0-3 CCS) in an NCAA Division III men's basketball game on Tuesday, January 17.
Senior guard Bershard Edwards (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) was a force to be reckoned with as he led the Panthers with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the foul line, hauled in eight boards and dished out four assists.
Senior forward Zac Hill (Senoia, Ga.) erupted for 21 points to go with five caroms while junior guard Gabe Cofield (LaGrange, Ga.) wrangled a game-high 10 rebounds and sophomore forward Kyle Smith (Titusville, Fla.) finished with 15 points, three boards and a pair of steals. Freshman forward Parker Gonzalez (Johns Creek, Ga.) rounded out the top performers with six points and five caroms.
It would be an extremely tight knit affair over the first 9:40 as the clubs battled through three ties and were separated by no more than four points before eventually deadlocking at 18-18. At that point Hill would fuel an 8-0 burst, scoring the final six with a layup, dunk and jumper to make it 26-18 with 7:40 remaining in the opening frame.
The Scots answered right back, however, notching a 13-2 run that flipped the script and pulled them up to a narrow 31-30 advantage by the 2:20 mark. The clubs would then trade buckets to maintain that one-point margin before the Panthers scored the final three to retake the lead and head to the break with a 35-33 lead.
As was the case in the first half neither team could break loose from the other at the start of the second. Following a tying jumper by Malcolm Noel, LC scored five of the next six to pull ahead 40-36 with 3:15 gone by but a pair of quick baskets by Promise Igbanu and Logan Pearlman knotted it up once again.
An exchange of buckets saw the teams lock horns again but this time Covenant would see Igbanu go on his own little 6-0 run to take a 48-42 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining. From there, however, LaGrange would put it together on both sides of the ball and deliver a 13-2 run fueled by seven from Smith, including a capping three-pointer, to take back the lead at 55-50 by the 5:57 mark.
Undaunted, Covenant answered with a pair of buckets sandwiched around a Hill free throw to get to within 56-54 only to see Hill knock down a jumper and Edwards a three to power a 6-0 burst that extended the lead to eight with just under four minutes left. Pearlman then responded with a three to get within five, 62-57, before the wheels came off.
Over the final 2:38 LaGrange more than doubled up the Scots, outscoring them 12-5 with a perfect 10-of-10 performance at the foul line, the last eight of those by Edwards, to lock up the 74-61 victory.
Igbanu led the way for Covenant, finishing with 16 points, eight boards, four assists and a pair of steals while Noel also finished with 16. Pearlman added 10 points, seven caroms and two assists and Walker Mathis and Jonathan Gernatt chipped in with 11 and eight points apiece.
The Panthers are now off until Wednesday, January 25 when they travel to Piedmont. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in Demorest, Georgia.
The game was the first at home for LaGrange since a 73-59 victory over Mississippi University for Women on December 16.