Senior guard Jalaya Lewis scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter for the LaGrange College women's basketball team during a 66-57 victory in its home opener Wednesday evening against Emory in Mariotti Gym.
"This was a great team win," said Lewis. "Every person on the team brought major energy and emotional lifts when their opportunity arose. The energy from our bench gave us the lift we needed to pull out a hard-fought win."
The Panthers (2-1) ended a seven-game losing streak to the Eagles (0-1) and picked up their first win in the rivalry since an 84-83 triumph in Mariotti on Nov. 23, 2010.
"It was a great game against an elite program in Emory," said LaGrange College Women's Basketball Head Coach Jasen Jonus. "We played hard and brought relentless energy on the defensive end. Jalaya was huge down the stretch and our newcomers reacted well in a high-intensity game. We have a long way to go to reach our goals, but this was a huge step in the right direction."
Freshman guard Ema Turner dropped a career-best 10 points in 25 minutes off the bench. She shot 3 of 6 from the field, to go along with three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Her defensive intensity was tremendous, and she made multiple plays off the dribble with her court vision.
"I am excited for the season ahead," said Turner. "We have the right pieces to be great. I love the way this team plays."
The Eagles, who were receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Preseason Top-25 poll, were led by Tori Huggins (13 points, 11 rebounds), Morgan Laudick (12 points) and Claire Brock (10 points).
Emory jumped out to a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter behind a combined 12 points from Huggins and Laudick. Brunel paced LC in the opening 10 minutes with three points and three steals.
The Panthers won the final three quarters by a combined margin of 56-41, holding advantages of 17-13 in the second, 16-12 in the third and 23-16 in the fourth.
Senior forward Nia Johnson made a huge impact in the second quarter. She corralled an offensive rebound in the paint and finished a layup in traffic, cutting the deficit down to two with 3:17 left. Thirty-seven seconds later, she stepped out and knocked down a mid-range jumper, evening the score at 23-23.
In the final seconds of the second, Lewis went coast to coast and finished a layup, trimming Emory's advantage to 29-27 going into halftime.
A 3-pointer by Turner with 6:57 left in the third gave LC the lead for the first time at 32-31. One minute later, Brunel drained a three-ball, giving the hosts a 35-33 advantage. A layup by English with 29 seconds on the clock sent the Panthers into the fourth with a 43-41 lead.
English came through and buried an enormous 3-pointer with 4:15 left in regulation, putting LaGrange in front, 54-47. Lewis scored six points over the final 2:09, securing the nine-point victory for the Panthers.
Junior center Jada Strickland finished with eight points and six rebounds. LC led the points-off-turnovers category, 14-4. The game had seven lead changes and the score was tied six times.
Emory leads the all-time series with a 14-4 record. The Panthers first two wins in the series came by scores of 61-59 and 66-53 in 2003 and 2009, respectively.
LaGrange plays at Birmingham-Southern Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, and then takes on Millsaps at 4 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama.
Assistant Sports Information Director Trevor Wenners can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.