Brevard built a large fourth quarter lead and held on for an 88-82 win over LaGrange in a USA South game Saturday in Mariotti Gym. The Panthers slipped to 8-6 overall and 3-2 in conference play with the loss.
Junior Gracie Brunel and senior Jalaya Lewis combined for 45 points to lead LC. Brunel led all scorers with 24 points, 14 coming in the first half. Lewis tied her season and career high with 21 points. Brevard got 23 points off the bench from Aysha Short. Destiny Williams, the USA South's leading scorer, was held to 12 points.
Coach Jasen Jonus
"After being down by more than 20 in the fourth period, if we played the beginning of the game the way we played the end of the game, it would be a different game. We just came out flat at the start, we were scoring but on the defensive end we lost our intensity. It's a tough loss, but we have to rise to the occasion, especially at home. We have to protect our house and we didn't today.
"At the free throw line, we missed way too many chances. We got down and tried to make a comeback. If we had hit some of those free throws that we missed down the stretch it would have been a win.
"Our next three games are on the road at Maryville, Brevard, and Piedmont. We have played better on the road than at home. It's a tough three-game stretch, but I believe we will bounce back."
Brunel scored seven of the game's first nine points as the Panthers jumped out to a 9-0 lead. LC led 20-12 by the end of the first quarter. Brevard roared back by starting the second period on a 10-0 run to take its first lead, 22-20, after a 3-pointer by Short. After falling behind 29-22, the Panthers tied the game at 31 on a trey by Brunel. Breona Glover had a layup at the buzzer off a feed from Ema Turner to put LC up 36-35 at the break.
The Tornados scored the first seven points of the third quarter to regain the lead for good. Brunel kept LC close with a pair of 3-pointers and Kendra Roberts' basket had the Panthers within three, 51-48, with 4:17 left in the period. But the Tornados outscored the Panthers 16-4 the rest of period to build a 67-52 lead. Brevard shot 75% in the quarter, including a perfect 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts.
In the fouth period, Avery Lockwood's layup gave Brevard its biggest lead, 76-54, with 6:49 remaining. The Panthers began chipping away at the deficit. Lewis drained a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game, 83-73, with 2:34 showing. Lewis, who had 16 second half points, made a steal and converted at the offensive end to make it 85-79. But free throw shooting hurt LC's comeback. The Panthers made just 9-of-17 at the line in the final quarter. The Tornados made enough free throws to put the game away.
The Panthers finished the game 16-of-28 at the free throw line. Brevard shot a season-best 45% (9-of-21) from 3-point range in the game. The Tornados, led by Short, had a 49-20 advantage off the bench.
The Panthers begin their three-game road stretch at Maryville on Jan. 15.