Women’s Basketball: Strong defense propels Panthers to 61-47 win at Brevard in USA South opener

Women’s Basketball: Strong defense propels Panthers to 61-47 win at Brevard in USA South opener

BREVARD, N.C. – Junior guard Jahpera McEachin scored a game-high 17 points for the LaGrange College women's basketball team during a 61-47 victory at Brevard on Saturday, as the Panthers took complete control of their USA South opener with a 24-6 second-half run.  

Junior guard Daijah Cousins dropped a season-high 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the floor, to go along with five boards, in 15 minutes off the bench.

"We played a little sloppy, but we overcame adversity and figured out a way to win," said Cousins. "I got two fouls early, but was ready to play as hard as I could in the second half. It was a good team effort, especially in the second half, as our defense was solid."

The Panthers (6-1, 1-0 USA South) have won six games in a row, holding five-straight opponents to less than 50 points. LaGrange held Brevard (2-4, 0-1 USA South) scoreless for the opening 4:56 of the fourth quarter.

Sarah Evans, Charley Amissah-Reyes, Adreona Bowen and Nadia Montour did an excellent job in the post on both ends of the floor, combining for 23 points and 20 rebounds.

"We emphasized defense and rebounding before the game," said Panthers head coach Lee Buchanan. "We did very well in those categories. We did a good job with rebounding missed shots on both ends. Overall, it was a real good team win."

FIRST-HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • After Brevard took a 3-0 lead, the Panthers responded with an early 8-0 surge. Amissah-Reyes recorded a steal, and then McEachin converted a coast-to-coast layup, putting the visitors on the board. LaGrange claimed an 8-3 lead on a right-elbow jumper by Amissah-Reyes with 5:41 on the clock in the first.
  • McEachin penetrated into the paint and recorded an old-fashioned, 3-point play, extending LaGrange's lead to 11-5 with 4:39 left. McEachin attacked the Tornados' half-court defense off the dribble, and then spotted senior captain Mykelli Taylor for a wide-open, left-baseline 3, putting the Panthers in front, 16-8, with 3:14 remaining.
  • With one second remaining in the first quarter, senior captain Sadie Desroches made an outstanding entry pass to Bowen for a layup, as the Panthers led, 19-10, at the end of one.
  • Montour converted a layup off an over-the-top entry pass by sophomore guard Jada Brown, giving the Panthers a 21-10 cushion early in the second quarter.
  • A top-of-the-key 3-pointer by Taylor with 59 seconds left in the half sent the Panthers into intermission with a 27-24 advantage.

SECOND-HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A 3-point shot by Shakirah Thompson put the Tornados in front, 34-30, with 6:41 left in the third, which ended a 24-9 run for Brevard.
  • The Panthers answered with a crucial 24-6 run, which covered the final 6:22 of the third and the opening 4:34 of the fourth. Desroches began the surge by drilling a mid-range jumper off the dribble, while absorbing contact during an old-fashioned, 3-point play.
  • A turnaround jumper in the post by Evans allowed LaGrange to reclaim the lead at 35-34 with 5:47 left.  
  • McEachin drained a right-baseline three-ball, and then Bowen recorded a four-point possession, pushing the Panthers' lead to 44-36 with 2:52 left.
  • With 27 seconds left, Evans blocked a shot in the post, allowing Brown to convert a layup with 12 seconds on the clock. LaGrange held a 48-40 lead heading into the fourth.
  • LaGrange built a 50-40 lead with 7:04 left in the final quarter. Montour recorded a steal on the defensive end, and then McEachin, who was fouled in transition, buried two foul shots.
  • A left-of-the-arc, 3-point shot by Cousins allowed the Panthers to build a 57-42 lead with 4:47 remaining. The unit built its largest lead of the afternoon at 61-42 on a right-baseline jumper by Cousins with 1:11 on the scoreboard.

WHAT THEY SAID:

Panthers Head Coach Lee Buchanan: "It was not a pretty win, but we are thankful we could go on the road and get a victory. Brevard is a tough place to play. Once again, our defense was good throughout the game. We shot the ball well early and to start the second half. There were many hustle plays that helped us. Charley was all over the floor with her hustle and defense, leading to three steals. Charley, Daijah and Jahpera shot the ball well at crucial times."

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • LaGrange held Brevard to 29.8 percent shooting from the floor (17-57) and 24.1 percent from 3-point range (7-29). The Panthers shot 42.1 percent from the floor (24-57), 38.5 percent from beyond the arc (5-13) and 88.9 percent from the foul line (8-9).
  • The Panthers led the rebounding category, 43-31, while also holding a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint.
  • McEachin went 6-for-11 from the floor, 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. The junior standout also led the team with four assists, while tallying two rebounds and two steals.
  • Amissah-Reyes went 4-for-5 from the floor, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and three steals. Bowen finished with six points and six boards in 12 minutes off the bench.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • LaGrange improved to 3-3 in the all-time series with the Tornados.
  • During the 2018-19 season, the Panthers won the first meeting, 56-55, in overtime at Mariotti, and then Brevard responded with a 72-51 win at home in the second meeting.
  • The two teams split the season series in 2017-18, while the Tornados won the first-ever meeting between the programs on Dec. 30, 2016.

UP NEXT:

  • The Panthers will travel to Demorest, Georgia, for a 5:30 p.m. USA South game against Piedmont on Wednesday.