Junior guard Jahpera McEachin of the LaGrange College women's basketball team finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals during a 49-47 win over Berry on Tuesday at Mariotti Gym.
Senior captain Mykelli Taylor made a series of clutch plays down the stretch to secure the victory for the Panthers (5-1), as she gave LaGrange a 46-41 lead with 5:02 left in regulation on a 3-point shot. Taylor recorded a steal with 1:09 left, and then a blocked shot with one second remaining on the potential go-ahead 3-pointer for Berry.
"I was happy for Adreona and the lift she gave us," said Panthers head coach Lee Buchanan. "She came through with big shots, rebounds and free throws. I was very happy for Mykelli. She had the blocked shot to end the game, which was special because it was her birthday."
The Panthers held Berry (3-3) to 27.9 percent shooting from the floor (19-68) and 11.1 percent from 3-point range (3-27). The Panthers have won five games in a row and swept the season series with the Vikings. During the first meeting on Nov. 10, McEachin hit the game-winning runner with four seconds left in a 67-65 win.
"It was a real good team win," said Amissah-Reyes. "We played a lot better in the second half. Coach had to sit me with two fouls in the first half, so I was determined to give it my all in the second half. Our bench gave us a great lift. It is a special group."
- Senior captain Sadie Desroches pulled down a defensive board 34 seconds into the game, and then went coast-to-coast for a layup, giving the Panthers an early 2-0 advantage.
- McEachin lobbed an over-the-top entry pass to Amissah-Reyes for a layup, putting LaGrange in front, 4-3, with 7:58 left in the first.
- McEachin did an outstanding job attacking the hoop in the late moments of the first quarter. She converted a short jumper and two layups in the final 2:33 of the period, allowing the Panthers to trim a 14-8 deficit down to 16-14 at the end of one.
- Junior guard Daijah Cousins forced the Vikings' defense to collapse, and then she located junior forward Megan English for a left-wing three-ball, putting the hosts in front, 17-16, with 8:41 left in the half.
- Freshman forward Breonna Glover drained two free throws 52 seconds later, as the opportunity was orchestrated by an outstanding pass off the dribble by English.
- With just over four minutes on the clock, junior center Nadia Montour tallied a pair of blocked shots on a single possession, forcing Berry into a shot-clock violation.
- A transition layup by Cousins extended LaGrange's lead to 24-20 with 4:36 left. The Vikings ended the period on a 9-2 surge, taking a 29-26 lead into intermission.
- The Panthers opened the second half on a 10-4 run. Amissah-Reyes buried a mid-range jumper from the right elbow with 4:18 left in the third, trimming Berry's lead down to 33-31.
- Bowen rotated into the paint off dribble penetration and took a charge with 3:09 showing in the third. The junior standout also did a great job attacking the hoop off the dribble, going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the third. One of those made foul shots gave the unit a 36-33 lead with 1:22 on the scoreboard.
- A left-side jumper by Desroches allowed LaGrange to regain the lead at 40-39 3:24 into the fourth. After Berry took a 41-40 lead, Amissah-Reyes buried a left-of-the-arc trey with 5:26 left. Twenty-four seconds later, Taylor drilled a 3-point shot from the right side of the arc, putting the unit up 46-41 with 5:02 remaining.
- A layup off an offensive rebound by Bowen extended the Panthers' lead to 49-45 with 1:40 left, setting the stage for Taylor's big-time defensive plays down the stretch.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Panthers Head Coach Lee Buchanan: "It was a quality win over a good Berry team. Both teams battled to the very end. We just found a way to hang on for the win. At times, both teams struggled offensively, but both teams played outstanding defense. We played better in the second half on the defensive end and did a much better job of rebounding. To go plus-15 on the boards in the second half is a tribute to our players. The team has been working very diligently so I was happy to see the work pay off."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- The Panthers held a 24-9 advantage in bench points. LaGrange led the rebounding battle, 46-43, while also winning the points-off-turnovers category, 15-10.
- Desroches finished with four points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal, while Glover totaled five rebounds in 10 minutes off the bench.
- The Panthers have held four-straight opponents to less than 50 points.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:
- The Panthers evened the all-time series with Berry, as each team has won eight games in the rivalry.
- Each team has gone 3-3 in the series at Mariotti, with the rivalry dating back to 2009.
- Berry won the first-ever meeting, 74-64, but the Panthers responded with a pair of 20-point wins in 2011.
- The Panthers will begin their USA South schedule on Saturday with a 2 p.m. tip-off at Brevard.